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GREAT men stand like solitary towers in the 
city of God, and secret passages running deep 
beneath external nature give their thoughts inter- 
course with higher intelligences, which strength- 
ens and consoles them, and of which the laborers 
on the surface do not even dream ! 

Some such thought as this was floating vaguely 
through the brain of Mr. Churchill, as he closed 
his school-house door behind him ; and if in any 
degree he applied it to himself, it may perhaps be 
pardoned in a dreamy, poetic man like him ; for 
we judge ourselves by what we feel capable of 
doing, while others judge us by what we have 
already done. And moreover his wife consider- 
ed him equal to great things. To the people in 


the village, he was the school-master, and nothing 
more. They beheld in his form and countenance 
no outward sign of the divinity within. They 
saw him daily moiling and delving in the common 
path, like a beetle, and little thought that under- 
neath that hard and cold exterior, lay folded deli- 
cate golden wings, wherewith, when the heat of 
day was over, he soared and revelled in the 
pleasant evening air. 

To-day he was soaring and revelling before the 
sun had set ; for it was Saturday. With a feel- 
ing of infinite relief he left behind him the empty 
school-house, into which the hot sun of a Sep- 
tember afternoon was pouring. All the bright 
young faces were gone ; all the impatient little 
hearts were gone ; all the fresh voices, shrill, but 
musical with the melody of childhood, were 
gone ; and the lately busy realm was given up to 
silence, and the dusty sunshine, and the old gray 
flies, that buzzed and bumped their heads against 
the window-panes. The sound of the outer door, 
creaking on its hebdomadal hinges, was like a sen- 
tinel's challenge, to which the key growled re- 
sponsive in the lock ; and the master, casting a 
furtive glance at the last caricature of himself in 
red chalk on the wooden fence close by, entered 

A TALE. 5 

with a light step the solemn avenue of pines that 
led to the margin of the river. 

At first his step was quick and nervous ; and 
he swung his cane as if aiming blows at some in- 
visible and retreating enemy. Though a meek 
man, there were moments when he remembered 
with bitterness the unjust reproaches of fathers 
and their insulting words ; and then he fought im- 
aginary battles with people out of sight, and struck 
them to the ground, and trampled upon them ; for 
Mr. Churchill was not exempt from the weak- 
ness of human nature, nor the customary vexa- 
tions of a school-master's life. Unruly sons and 
unreasonable fathers did sometimes embitter his 
else sweet days and nights. But as he walked, 
his step grew slower, and his heart calmer. The 
coolness and shadows of the great trees comfort- 
ed and satisfied him, and he heard the voice of 
the wind as it were the voice of spirits calling 
around him in the air. So that when he emerged 
from the black woodlands into the meadows by 
the river's side, all his cares were forgotten. 

He lay down for a moment under a syca- 
more, and thought of the Roman Consul Licinius, 
passing a night with eighteen of his followers in 
the hollow trunk of the great Lycian plane-tree. 


From the branches overhead the falling seeds 
were wafted away through the soft air on plumy 
tufts of down. The continuous murmur of the 
leaves and of the swift-running stream seemed 
rather to deepen than disturb the pleasing solitude 
and silence of the place ; and for a moment he 
imagined himself far away in the broad prairies of 
the West, and lying beneath the luxuriant trees 
that overhang the banks of the Wabash and the 
Kaskaskia. He saw the sturgeon leap from the 
river, and flash for a moment in the sunshine. 
Then a flock of wild-fowl flew across the sky to- 
wards the sea-mist that was rising slowly in the 
east ; and his soul seemed to float away on the 
river's current, till he had glided far out into the 
measureless sea, and the sound of the wind among 
the leaves was no longer the sound of the wind, 
but of the sea. 

Nature had made Mr. Churchill a poet, but des- 
tiny made him a school-master. This produced 
a discord between his outward and his inward ex- 
istence. Life presented itself to him like the 
Sphinx, with its perpetual riddle of the real and 
the ideal. To the solution of this dark problem 
he devoted his days and his nights. He was 
forced to teach grammar when he would fain 

A TALE. 7 

have written poems ; and from day to day, and 
from year to year, the trivial things of life post- 
poned the great designs, which he felt capable of 
accomplishing, but never had the resolute courage 
to begin. Thus he dallied with his thoughts and 
with all things, and wasted his strength on trifles ; 
like the lazy sea, that plays with the pebbles on 
its beach, but under the inspiration of the wind 
might lift great navies on its outstretched palms, 
and toss them into the air as playthings. 

The evening came. The setting sun stretched 
his celestial rods of light across the level land- 
scape, and, like the Hebrew in Egypt, smote the 
rivers and the brooks and the ponds, and they be- 
came as blood. 

Mr. Churchill turned his steps homeward. He 
climbed the hill with the old windmill on its sum- 
mit, and below him saw the lights of the village ; 
and around him the great landscape sinking deeper 
and deeper into the sea of darkness. He passed 
an orchard. The air was filled with the odor of 
the fallen fruit, which seemed to him as sweet as 
the fragrance of the blossoms in June. A few 
steps farther brought him to an old and neglected 
church-yard ; and he paused a moment to look at 
the white gleaming stone, under which slumbered 


the old clergyman, who came into the village in 
the time of the Indian wars, and on which was re- 
corded that for half a century he had been " a 
painful preacher of the word." He entered the 
village street, and interchanged a few words with 
Mr. Pendexter, the venerable divine, whom he 
found standing at his gate. He met, also, an ill- 
looking man, carrying so many old boots that he 
seemed literally buried in them ; and at intervals 
encountered a stream of strong tobacco smoke, 
exhaled from the pipe of an Irish laborer, and 
pervading the damp evening air. At length he 
reached his own door. 



WHEN Mr. Churchill entered his study, he 
found the lamp lighted, and his wife waiting for 
him. The wood fire was singing on the hearth 
like a grasshopper in the heat and silence of a 
Summer noon ; and to his heart the chill autum- 
nal evening became a Summer noon. His wife 
turned towards him with looks of love in her joy- 
ous blue eyes ; and in the serene expression of 
her face he read the Divine beatitude, " Blessed 
are the pure in heart." 

No sooner had he seated himself by the fireside 
than the door was swung wide open, and on the 
threshold stood, with his legs apart, like a minia- 
ture colossus, a lovely, golden boy, about three 
years old, with long, light locks, and very red 
cheeks. After a moment's pause, he dashed for- 
ward into the room with a shout, and established 


himself in a large arm-chair, which he converted 
into a carrier's wagon, and over the back of which 
he urged forward his imaginary horses. He was 
followed by Lucy, the maid of all work, bear- 
ing in her arms the baby, with large, round eyes, 
and no hair. In his mouth he held an India rub- 
ber ring, and looked very much like a street-door 
knocker. He came down to say good night, but 
after he got down, could not say it ; not being 
able to say any thing but a kind of explosive 
" Papa ! " He was then a good deal kissed and 
tormented in various ways, and finally sent off to 
bed blowing little bubbles with his mouth, Lucy 
blessing his little heart, and asseverating that no- 
body could feed him in the night without loving 
him ; and that if the flies bit him any more she 
would pull out every tooth in their heads ! 

Then came Master Alfred's hour of triumph 
and sovereign sway. The fire-light gleamed on 
his hard, red cheeks, and glanced from his liquid 
eyes, and small, white teeth. He piled his wagon 
full of books and papers, and dashed off to town 
at the top of his speed ; he delivered and re- 
ceived parcels and letters, and played the post- 
boy's horn with his lips. Then he climbed the 
back of the great chair, sang " Sweep ho ! " as 

A TALE. 11 

from the top of a very high chimney, and, sliding 
down upon the cushion, pretended to fall asleep 
in a little white bed, with white curtains ; from 
which imaginary slumber his father awoke him by 
crying in his ear, in mysterious tones, 

" What little boy is this ! " 

Finally he sat down in his chair at his mother's 
knee, and listened very attentively, and for the 
hundredth time, to the story of the dog Jumper, 
which was no sooner ended, than vociferously 
called for again and again. On the fifth repetition, 
it was cut as short as the dog's tail by Lucy, who, 
having put the baby to bed, now came for Master 
Alfred. He seemed to hope he had been forgot- 
ten, but was nevertheless marched off to bed, 
without any particular regard to his feelings, and 
disappeared in a kind of abstracted mood, repeat- 
ing softly to himself his father's words, 

" Good night, Alfred !" 

His father looked fondly after him as he went 
up stairs, holding Lucy by one hand, and with the 
other rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. 

" Ah ! these children, these children ! " said 
Mr. Churchill, as he sat down at the tea-table ; 
" we ought to love them very much now, for we 
shall not have them long with us ! " 


" Good heavens ! " exclaimed his wife, u what 
do you mean ? Does any thing ail them ? Are 
they going to die ? " 

" I hope not. But they are going to grow up, 
and be no longer children." 

" O, you foolish man ! You gave me such a 
fright ! " 

" And yet it seems impossible that they should 
ever grow to be men, and drag the heavy artil- 
lery along the dusty roads of life." 

" And I hope they never will. That is the 
last thing I want either of them to do." 

" O, I do not mean literally, only figuratively. 
By the way, speaking of growing up and growing 
old, I saw Mr. Pendexter this evening, as I came 

" And what had he to say ? " 

cc He told me he should preach his farewell 
sermon to-morrow." 

" Poor old man ! I really pity him." 

" So do I. But it must be confessed he is a 
dull preacher ; and I dare say it is as dull work 
for him as for his hearers." 

" Why are they going to send him away ? " 

" O, there are a great many reasons. He 
does not give time and attention enough to his 

A TALE. 13 

sermons and to his parish. He is always at work 
on his farm ; always wants his salary raised ; and 
insists upon his right to pasture his horse in the 
parish fields." 

" Hark ! " cried his wife, lifting up her face in 
a listening attitude. 

" What is the matter ? " 

" I thought I heard the baby ! " 

There was a short silence. Then Mr. Church- 
ill said, 

" It was only the cat in the cellar." 

At this moment Lucy came in. She hesitated 
a little, and then, in a submissive voice, asked 
leave to go down to the village to buy some rib- 
bon for her bonnet. Lucy was a girl of fifteen, 
who had been taken a few years before from an 
Orphan Asylum. Her dark eyes had a gypsy 
look, and she wore her brown hair twisted round 
her head after the manner of some of Murillo's 
girls. She had Milesian blood in her veins, and 
was impetuous and impatient of contradiction. 

When she had left the room, the school-master 
resumed the conversation by saying, 

" I do not like Lucy's going out so much in 
the evening. I am afraid she will get into trouble. 
She is really very pretty." 


Then there was another pause, after which he 

" My dear wife, one thing puzzles me exceed- 

" And what is that ? " 

u It is to know what that man does with all the 
old boots he picks up about the village. I met 
him again this evening. He seemed to have as 
many feet as Briareus had hands. He is a kind 
of centipede." 

" But what has that to do with Lucy ? " 

" Nothing. It only occurred to me at the 
moment ; and I never can imagine what he does 
with so many old boots." 

A TALE. 15 


WHEN tea was over, Mr. Churchill walked to 
and fro in his study, as his custom was. And as 
he walked, he gazed with secret rapture at the 
books, w r hich lined the walls, and thought how 
many bleeding hearts and aching heads had found 
consolation for themselves and imparted it to 
others, by writing those pages. The books 
seemed to him almost as living beings, so instinct 
were they with human thoughts and sympathies. 
It was as if the authors themselves were gazing at 
him from the walls, with countenances neither 
sorrowful nor glad, but full of calm indifference 
to fate, like those of the poets who appeared to 
Dante in his vision, walking together on the dolor- 
ous shore. And then he dreamed of fame, and 
thought that perhaps hereafter he might be in 
some degree, and to some one, what these men 


were to him ; and in the enthusiasm of the 
moment he exclaimed aloud, 

u Would you have me be like these, dear 
Mary ? 

" Like these what ? " asked his wife, not com- 
prehending him. 

" Like these great and good men, like these 
scholars and poets, the authors of all these 
books ! " 

She pressed his hand and said, in a soft, but 
excited tone, 

u O, yes ! Like them, only perhaps better ! " 

u Then I will write a Romance ! " 

u Write it ! " said his wife, like the angel. 
For she believed that then he would become 
famous for ever ; and that all the vexed and busy 
world would stand still to hear him blow his little 
trumpet, whose sound was to rend the adaman- 
tine walls of time, and reach the ears of a far-off 
and startled posterity. 

A TALE. 17 


" I WAS thinking to-day," said Mr. Churchill 
a few minutes afterwards, as he took some papers 
from a drawer scented with a quince, and arranged 
them on the study table, while his wife as usual 
seated herself opposite to him with her work in 
her hand, "I was thinking to-day how dull and 
prosaic the study of mathematics is made in our 
school-books ; as if the grand science of num- 
bers had been discovered and perfected merely 
to further the purposes of trade." 

" For my part," answered his wife, u I do 
not see how you can make mathematics poetical. 
There is no poetry in them." 

" Ah, that is a very great mistake ! There 

is something divine in the science of numbers. 

Like God, it holds the sea in the hollow of its 

hand. It measures the earth ; it weighs the stars ; 



it illumines the universe ; it is law, it is order, it 
is beauty. And yet we imagine that is, most 
of us that its highest end and culminating point 
is book-keeping by double entry. It is our way 
of teaching it that makes it so prosaic." 

So saying, he arose, and went to one of his 
book-cases, from the shelf of which he took down 
a little old quarto volume, and laid it upon the 

"Now here," he continued, "is a book of 
mathematics of quite a different stamp from ours." 

" It looks very old. What is it ? " 

"It is the Lilawati of Bhascara Acharya, 
translated from the Sanscrit." 

"It is a pretty name. Pray what does it 
mean ? " 

" Lilawati was the name of Bhascara's daugh- 
ter ; and the book was written to perpetuate it. 
Here is an account of the whole matter." 

He then opened the volume, and read as fol- 
lows : 

" It is said that the composing of Lilawati was 
occasioned by the following circumstance. Lila- 
wati was the name of the author's daughter, con- 
cerning whom it appeared, from the qualities of 
the Ascendant at her birth, that she was destined 

A TALE. 19 

to pass her -life unmarried, and to remain without 
children. The father ascertained a lucky hour 
for contracting her in marriage, that she might be 
firmly connected, and have children. It is said 
that, when that hour approached, he brought his 
daughter and his intended son near him. He left 
the hour-cup on the vessel of water, and kept in 
attendance a time-knowing astrologer, in order 
that, when the cup should subside in the water, 
those two precious jewels should be united. But 
as the intended arrangement was not according to 
destiny, it happened that the girl, from a curiosity 
natural to children, looked into the cup to observe 
the water coming in at the hole ; when by chance 
a pearl separated from her bridal dress, fell into 
the cup, and, rolling down to the hole, stopped the 
influx of the water. So the astrologer waited in 
expectation of the promised hour. When the 
operation of the cup had thus been delayed be- 
yond all moderate time, the father was in conster- 
nation, and examining, he found that a small pearl 
had stopped the course of the water, and the long- 
expected hour was passed. In short, the father, 
thus disappointed, said to his unfortunate daugh- 
ter, I will write a book of your name, which shall 
remain to the latest times, for a good name is 


a second life, and the groundwork of eternal ex- 

As the school-master read, the eyes of his wife 
dilated and grew tender, and she said, 

" What a beautiful story ! When did it hap- 
pen ? " 

" Seven hundred years ago, among the Hin- 

" Why not write a poem about it ? " 

" Because it is already a poem of itself, one 
of those things, of which the simplest statement is 
the best, and which lose by embellishment. The 
old Hindoo legend, brown with age, would not 
please me so well if decked in gay colors, and 
hung round with the tinkling bells of rhyme. 
Now hear how the book begins." 

Again he read ; 

" Salutation to the elephant-headed Being who 
infuses joy into the minds of his worshippers, 
who delivers from every difficulty those that call 
upon him, and whose feet are reverenced by the 
gods ! Reverence to Ganesa, who is beautiful 
as the pure purple lotos, and around whose neck 
the black curling snake winds itself in playful 
folds ! " 

" That sounds rather mystical," said his wife. 

A TALE. 21 

" Yes, the book begins with a salutation to the 
Hindoo deities, as the old Spanish Chronicles 
begin in the name of God, and the Holy Virgin. 
And now see how poetical some of the examples 

He then turned over the leaves slowly and 

u One-third of a collection of beautiful water- 
lilies is offered to Mahadev, one-fifth to Huri, 
one-sixth to the Sun, one-fourth to Devi, and six 
which remain are presented to the spiritual teach- 
er. Required the whole number of water-lilies." 

" That is very pretty," said the wife, " and 
would put it into the boys' heads to bring you 

" Here is a prettier one still. One-fifth of a 
hive of bees flew to the Kadamba flower ; one- 
third flew to the Silandhara ; three times the dif- 
ference of these two numbers flew to an arbor ; 
and one bee continued flying about, attracted on 
each side by the fragrant Ketaki and the Malati. 
What was the number of the bees ? " 

" T am sure I should never be able to tell." 

" Ten times the square root of a flock of 
geese " 

Here Mrs. Churchill laughed aloud ; but he 
continued very gravely, 


u Ten times the square root of a flock of 
geese, seeing the clouds collect, flew to the 
Manus lake ; one-eighth of the whole flew from 
the edge of the water amongst a multitude of 
water-lilies ; and three couple were observed 
playing in the water. Tell me, my young girl 
with beautiful locks, what was the whole number 
of geese ? " 

" Well, what was it ? " 

" What should you think ? " 

" About twenty." 

" No, one hundred and forty-four. Now try 
another. The square root of half a number of 
bees, and also eight-ninths of the whole, alighted 
on the jasmines, and a female bee buzzed respon- 
sive to the hum of the male inclosed at night in a 
water-lily. O, beautiful damsel, tell me the num- 
ber of bees." 

" That is not there. You made it." 

u No, indeed I did not. I wish I had made it. 
Look and see." 

He showed her the book, and she read it her- 
self. He then proposed some of the geometrical 

" In a lake the bud of a water-lily was ob- 
served, one span above the water, and when 

A TALE. 23 

moved by the gentle breeze, it sunk in the water 
at two cubits' distance. Required the depth of 
the water." 

" That is charming, but must be very difficult. 
I could not answer it." 

" A tree one hundred cubits high is distant 
from a well two hundred cubits ; from this tree 
one monkey descends and goes to the well ; an- 
other monkey takes a leap upwards, and then de- 
scends by the hypothenuse ; and both pass over 
an equal space. Required the height of the 

" I do not believe you can answer that ques- 
tion yourself, without looking into the book," said 
the laughing wife, laying her hand over the solu- 
tion. " Try it." 

"With great pleasure, my dear child," cried 
the confident school-master, taking a pencil and 
paper. After making a few figures and calcula- 
tions, he answered, 

" There, my young girl with beautiful locks, 
there is the answer, forty cubits." 

His wife removed her hand from the book, and 
then, clapping both in triumph, she exclaimed, 

" No, you are wrong, you are wrong, my 
beautiful youth with a bee in your bonnet. It 
is fifty cubits ! " 


" Then I must have made some mistake." 

" Of course you did. Your monkey did not 
jump high enough." 

She signalized his mortifying defeat as if it had 
been a victory, by showering kisses, like roses, 
upon his forehead and cheeks, as he passed be- 
neath the triumphal arch- way of her arms, trying 
in vain to articulate, 

" My dearest Lilawati, what is the whole 
number of the geese ? " 

A TALE. 25 



AFTER extricating himself from this pleasing 
dilemma, he said, 

" But I am now going to write. I must really 
begin in sober earnest, or I shall never get any 
thing finished. And you know I have so many 
things to do, so many books to write, that really 
I do not know where to begin. I think I will 
take up the Romance first." . 

" It will not make much difference, if you only 
begin ! " 

" That is true. I will not lose a moment." 

" Did you answer Mr. Cartwright's letter 
about the cottage bedstead ? " 

" Dear me, no ! I forgot it entirely. That 
must be done first, or he will make it all wrong." 

" And the young lady who sent you the poetry 
to look over and criticize ? " 


" No ; I have not had a single moment's leis- 
ure. And there is Mr. Hanson, who wants to 
know about the cooking-range. Confound it ! 
there is always something interfering with my 
Romance. However, I will despatch those mat- 
ters very speedily." 

And he began to write with great haste. For 
a while nothing was heard but the scratching of 
his pen. Then he said, probably in connection 
with the cooking-range, 

<c One of the most convenient things in house- 
keeping is a ham. It is always ready, and always 
welcome. You can eat it with any thing and with- 
out any tiling. It reminds me always of the great 
wild boar Scrimner, in the Northern Mythology, 
who is killed every day for the gods to feast on 
in Valhalla, and comes to life again every night." 

" In that case, I should think the gods would 
have the night-mare," said his wife. 

" Perhaps they do." 

And then another long silence, broken only by 
the skating of the swift pen over the sheet. 
Presently Mrs. Churchill said, as if following 
out her own train of thought, while she ceased 
plying her needle to bite off the thread, which 
ladies will sometimes do in spite of all that is said 
against it, 

A 1ALE. 27 

" A man came here to-day, calling himself the 
agent of an extensive house in the needle trade. 
He left this sample, and said the drill of the eye 
was superior to any other, and they are warranted 
not to cut the thread. He puts them at the 
wholesale price ; and if I do not like the sizes, he 
offers to exchange them for others, either sharps 
or betweens." 

To this remark the abstracted school-master 
vouchsafed no reply. He found his half-dozen 
letters not so easily answered, particularly that 
to the poetical young lady, and worked away 
busily at them. Finally they were finished and 
sealed ; and he looked up to his wife. She 
turned her eyes dreamily upon him. Slumber 
was hanging in their blue orbs, like snow in the 
heavens, ready to fall. It was quite late, and he 
said to her, 

" I am too tired, my charming Lilawati, and 
you too sleepy, to sit here any longer to-night. 
And, as I do not wish to begin my Romance 
without having you at my side, so that I can read 
detached passages to you as I write, I will put it 
off till to-morrow or the next day." 

He watched his wife as she went up stairs with 
the light. It was a picture always new and al- 


ways beautiful, and like a painting of Gherardo 
della Notte. As he followed her, he paused to 
look at the stars. The beauty of the heavens 
made his soul overflow. 

u How absolute," he exclaimed, u how abso- 
lute and omnipotent is the silence of the night ! 
And yet the stillness seems almost audible ! 
From all the measureless depths of air around us 
comes a half-sound, a half-whisper, as if we could 
hear the crumbling and falling away of earth 
and all created things, in the great miracle of 
nature, decay and reproduction, ever beginning, 
never ending, the gradual lapse and running of 
the sand in the great hour-glass of Time ! " 

In the night, Mr. Churchill had a singular 
dream. He thought himself in school, where he 
was reading Latin to his pupils. Suddenly all the 
genitive cases of the first declension began to 
make faces at him, and to laugh immoderately ; 
and when he tried to lay hold of them, they 
jumped down into the ablative, and the circum- 
flex accent assumed the form of a great mous- 
tache. Then the little village school-house was 
transformed into a vast and endless school-house 
of the world, stretching forward, form after form, 
through all the generations of coming time ; and 

A TALE. 29 

on all the forms sat young men and old, reading 
and transcribing his Romance, which now in his 
dream was completed, and smiling and passing it 
onward from one to another, till at last the clock 
in the corner struck twelve, and the weights 
ran down with a strange, angry whirr, and the 
school broke up ; and the school-master awoke 
to find this vision of fame only a dream, out of 
which his alarm-clock had aroused him at an 
untimely hour. 



MEANWHILE, a different scene was taking 
place at the parsonage. Mr. Pendexter had 
retired to his study to finish his farewell sermon. 
Silence reigned through the house. Sunday had 
already commenced there. The week ended 
with the setting of the sun, and the evening 
and the morning were the first day. 

The clergyman was interrupted in his labors by 
the old sexton, who called as usual for the key of 
the church. He was gently rebuked for coming 
so late, and excused himself by saying that his 
wife was worse. 

" Poor woman ! " said Mr. Pendexter ; "has 
she her mind ? " 

" Yes," answered the sexton, u as much as 

" She has been ill a long time," continued 

A TALE. 31 

the clergyman. " We have had prayers for her 
a great many Sundays." 

"It is very true, sir," replied the sexton, 
mournfully; "I have given you a great deal of 
trouble. But you need not pray for her any 
more. It is of no use." 

Mr. Pendexter's mind was in too fervid a state 
to notice the extreme and hopeless humility of his 
old parishioner, and the unintentional allusion to 
the inefficacy of his prayers. He pressed the old 
man's hand warmly, and said, with much emo- 

" To-morrow is the last time that I shall 
preach in this parish, where I have preached for 
twenty-five years. But it is not the last time I 
shall pray for you and your family." 

The sexton retired also much moved ; and the 
clergyman again resumed his task. His heart 
glowed and burned within him. Often his face 
flushed and his eyes filled with tears, so that he 
could not go on. Often he rose and paced the 
chamber to and fro, and wiped away the large 
drops that stood on his red and feverish fore- 

At length the sermon was finished. He rose 
and looked out of the window. Slowly the clock 


struck twelve. He had not heard it strike before, 
since six. The moon-light silvered the distant 
hills, and lay, white almost as snow, on the frosty 
roofs of the village. Not a light could be seen at 
any window. 

" Ungrateful people ! Could you not watch 
with me one hour ? " exclaimed he, in that ex- 
cited and bitter moment ; as if he had thought 
that on that solemn night the whole parish would 
have watched, while he was writing his farewell 
discourse. He pressed his hot brow against the 
window-pane to allay its fever ; and across the 
tremulous wavelets of the river the tranquil moon 
sent towards him a silvery shaft of light, like an 
angelic salutation. And the consoling thought 
came to him, that not only this river, but all 
rivers and lakes, and the great sea itself, were 
flashing with this heavenly light, though he beheld 
it as a single ray only ; and that what to him 
were the dark waves were the dark providences 
of God, luminous to others, and even to himself 
should he change his position. 

A TALE. 33 


THE morning came ; the dear, delicious, silent 
Sunday ; to the weary workman, both of brain 
and hand, the beloved day of rest. When the 
first bell rang, like a brazen mortar, it seemed 
from its gloomy fortress to bombard the village 
with bursting shells of sound, that exploded over 
the houses, shattering the ears of all the parish- 
ioners and shaking the consciences of many. 

Mr. Pendexter was to preach his farewell 
sermon. The church was crowded, and only one 
person came late. It was a modest, meek girl, 
who stole silently up one of the side aisles, 
not so silently, however, but that the pew-door 
creaked a little as she opened it ; and straightway 
a hundred heads were turned in that direction, 
although it was in the midst of the prayer. Old 
Mrs. Fairfield did not turn round, but she and her 


daughter looked at each other, and their bonnets 
made a parenthesis in the prayer, within which 
one asked what that was, and the other replied, 

" It is only Alice Archer. She always comes 

Finally the long prayer was ended, and the 
congregation sat down, and the weary children 
who are always restless during prayers, and had 
been for nearly half an hour twisting and turning, 
and standing first on one foot and then on the 
other, and hanging their heads over the backs of 
the pews, like tired colts looking into neighbour- 
ing pastures settled suddenly down, and sub- 
sided into something like rest. 

The sermon began, such a sermon as had 
never been preached, or even heard of before. 
It brought many tears into the eyes of the pastor's 
friends, and made the stoutest hearts among his 
foes quake with something like remorse. As he 
announced the text, " Yea, I think it meet as 
long as I am in this tabernacle to stir you up, by 
putting you in remembrance," it seemed as if the 
apostle Peter himself, from whose pen the words 
first proceeded, were calling them to judgment. 

He began by giving a minute sketch of his 
ministry and the state of the parish, with all its 

A TALE. 35 

troubles and dissensions, social, political, and 
ecclesiastical. He concluded by thanking those 
ladies who had presented him with a black silk 
gown, and had been kind to his wife during her 
long illness ; by apologizing for having ne- 
glected his own business, which was to study and 
preach, in order to attend to that of the parish, 
which was to support its minister, stating that 
his own short-comings had been owing to theirs, 
which had driven him into the woods in winter 
and into the fields in summer ; and finally 
by telling the congregation in general that they 
were so confirmed in their bad habits, that no 
reformation was to be expected in them under 
his ministry, and that to produce one would re- 
quire a greater exercise of Divine power than it 
did to create the world ; for in creating the world 
there had been no opposition, whereas, in their 
reformation, their own obstinacy and evil propen- 
sities, and self-seeking, and worldly-mindedness, 
were all to be overcome ! 



WHEN Mr. Pendexter had finished his dis- 
course, and pronounced his last benediction upon 
a congregation to whose spiritual wants he had 
ministered for so many years, his people, now his 
no more, returned home in very various states of 
mind. Some were exasperated, others mortified, 
and others filled with pity. 

Among the last was Alice Archer, a fair, 
delicate girl, whose whole life had been saddened 
by a too sensitive organization, and by somewhat 
untoward circumstances. She had a pale, trans- 
parent complexion, and large gray eyes, that 
seemed to see visions. Her figure was slight, 
almost fragile ; her hands white, slender, diapha- 
nous. With these external traits her character 
was in unison. She was thoughtful, silent, sus- 
ceptible ; often sad, often in tears, often lost in 

A TALE. 37 

reveries. She led a lonely life with her mother, 
who was old, querulous, and nearly blind. She 
had herself inherited a predisposition to blindness ; 
and in her disease there was this peculiarity, that 
she could see in Summer, but in Winter the power 
of vision failed her. 

The old house they lived in, with its four 
sickly Lombardy poplars in front, suggested 
gloomy and mournful thoughts. It was one of 
those houses that depress you as you enter, as if 
many persons had died in it, sombre, desolate, 
silent. The very clock in the hall had a dismal 
sound, gasping and catching its breath at times, 
and striking the hour with a violent, determined 
blow, reminding one of Jael driving the nail into 
the head of Sisera. 

One other inmate the house had, and only one. 
This was Sally Manchester, or Miss Sally Man- 
chester, as she preferred to be called ; an excel- 
lent chamber-maid and a very bad cook, for she 
served in both capacities. She was, indeed, an 
extraordinary woman, of large frame and mascu- 
line features ; one of those who are born to 
work, and accept their inheritance of toil as if it 
were play, and who consequently, in the language 
of domestic recommendations, are usually styled 


" a treasure, if you can get her." A treasure 
she was to this family ; for she did all the house- 
work, and in addition took care of the cow and 
the poultry, occasionally venturing into the field 
of veterinary practice, and administering lamp-oil 
to the cock, when she thought he crowed hoarse- 
ly. She had on her forehead what is sometimes 
denominated a " widow's peak," that is to say, 
her hair grew down to a point in the middle ; and 
on Sundays she appeared at church in a blue 
poplin gown, with a large pink bow on what she 
called u the congregation side of her bonnet." 
Her mind was strong, like her person ; her dis- 
position not sweet, but, as is sometimes said of 
apples by way of recommendation, a pleasant 

Such were the inmates of the gloomy house, 
from which the last-mentioned frequently ex- 
pressed her intention of retiring, being engaged to 
a travelling dentist, who, in filling her teeth with 
amalgam, had seized the opportunity to fill a soft 
place in her heart with something still more dan- 
gerous and mercurial. The wedding-day had 
been from time to time postponed, and at length 
the family hoped and believed it never would 
come, a wish prophetic of its own fulfilment. 



Almost the only sunshine that from without 
shone into the dark mansion came from the face 
of Cecilia Vaughan, the school-mate and bosom- 
friend of Alice Archer. They were nearly of 
the same age, and had been drawn together by 
that mysterious power which discovers and selects 
friends for us in our childhood. They sat togeth- 
er in school ; they walked together after school ; 
they told each other their manifold secrets ; they 
wrote long and impassioned letters to each other 
in the evening ; in a word, they were in love with 
each other. It was, so to speak, a rehearsal in 
girlhood of the great drama of woman's life. 




THE golden tints of Autumn now brightened 
the shrubbery around this melancholy house, and 
took away something of its gloom. The four 
poplar trees seemed all ablaze, and flickered in 
the wind like huge torches. The little border of 
box rilled the air with fragrance, and seemed to 
welcome the return of Alice, as she ascended the 
steps, and entered the house with a lighter heart 
than usual. The brisk autumnal air had quick- 
ened her pulse and given a glow to her cheek. 

She found her mother alone in the parlour, 
seated in her large arm-chair. The warm sun 
streamed in at the uncurtained windows ; and 
lights and shadows from the leaves lay upon her 
face. She turned her head as Alice entered, 
and said, 

" Who is it ? Is it you, Alice ? " 

A TALE. 41 

" Yes, it is I, mother." 

" Where have you been so long ? " 

u I have been nowhere, dear mother. I have 
come directly home from church." 

u How long it seems to me ! It is very late. 
It is growing quite dark. I was just going to call 
for the lights." 

" Why, mother ! " exclaimed Alice, in a 
startled tone ; u what do you mean ? The sun 
is shining directly into your face ! " 

" Impossible, my dear Alice. It is quite 
dark. I cannot see you. Where are you ? " 

She leaned over her mother and kissed her. 
Both were silent, both wept. They knew that 
the hour, so long looked forward to with dismay, 
had suddenly come. Mrs. Archer was blind ! 

This scene of sorrow was interrupted by the 
abrupt entrance of Sally Manchester. She, too, 
was in tears ; but she was weeping for her own 
affliction. In her hand she held an open let- 
ter, which she gave to Alice, exclaiming amid 

u Read this, Miss Archer, and see how false 
man can be ! Never trust any man ! They are 
all alike ; they are all false false false ! " 

Alice took the letter and read as follows : 


"It is with pleasure, Miss Manchester, I sit 
down to write you a few lines. I esteem you as 
highly as ever, but Providence has seemed to 
order and direct my thoughts and affections to 
another, one in my own neighbourhood. It 
was rather unexpected to me. Miss Manchester, 
I suppose you are well aware that we, as pro- 
fessed Christians, ought to be resigned to our lot 
in this world. May God assist you, so that we 
may be prepared to join the great company in 
heaven. Your answer would be very desirable. 
I respect your virtue, and regard you as a friend. 

" P. S. The society is generally pretty good 
here, but the state of religion is quite low." 

" That is a cruel letter, Sally," said Alice, as 
she handed it back to her. " But we all have 
our troubles. That man is unworthy of you. 
Think no more about him." 

" What is the matter ?" inquired Mrs. Archer, 
hearing the counsel given and the sobs with which 
it was received. " Sally, what is the matter ? " 

Sally made no answer ; but Alice said, 

" Mr. Cherryfield has fallen in love with some- 
body else." 

A TALE. 43 

cc Is that all ? " said Mrs. Archer, evidently 
relieved. " She ought to be very glad of it. 
Why does she want to be married ? She had 
much better stay with us ; particularly now that 
I am blind." 

When Sally heard this last word, she looked 
up in consternation. In a moment she forgot 
her own grief to sympathize with Alice and her 
mother. She wanted to do a thousand things at 
once ; to go here ; to send there ; to get 
this and that ; and particularly to call all the 
doctors in the neighbourhood. Alice assured 
her it would be of no avail, though she finally 
consented that one should be sent for. 

Sally went in search of him. On her way, her 
thoughts reverted to herself ; and, to use her own 
phrase, " she curbed in like a stage-horse," as 
she walked. This state of haughty and offended 
pride continued for some hours after her return 
home. Later in the day, she assumed a decent 
composure, and requested that the man she 
scorned to name him might never again be 
mentioned in her hearing. Thus was her whole 
dream of felicity swept away by the tide of fate, 
as the nest of a ground-swallow by an inundation. 
It had been built too low to be secure. 


Some women, after a burst of passionate tears, 
are soft, gentle, affectionate ; a warm and genial 
air succeeds the rain. Others clear up cold, and 
are breezy, bleak, and dismal. Of the latter class 
was Sally Manchester. She became embittered 
against all men on account of one ; and was often 
heard to say that she thought women were fools 
to be married, and that, for one, she would not 
marry any man, let him be who he might, not 
she ! 

The village doctor came. He was a large 
man, of the cheerful kind ; vigorous, florid, en- 
couraging ; and pervaded by an indiscriminate 
odor of drugs. Loud voice, large cane, thick 
boots ; every thing about him synonymous with 
noise. His presence in the sick-room was like 
martial music, inspiriting, but loud. He sel- 
dom left it without saying to the patient, " I hope 
you will feel more comfortable to-morrow," or, 
" When your fever leaves you, you will be bet- 
ter." But, in this instance, he could not go so 
far. Even his hopefulness was not sufficient for 
the emergency. Mrs. Archer was blind, be- 
yond remedy, beyond hope, irrevocably blind ! 

A TALE. 45 


ON the following morning, very early, as the 
school-master stood at his door, inhaling the 
bright, wholesome air, and beholding the shadows 
of the rising sun, and the flashing dew-drops 
on the red vine-leaves, he heard the sound 
of wheels, and saw Mr. Pendexter and his wife 
drive down the village street in their old-fashioned 
chaise, known by all the boys in town as " the 
ark." The old white horse, that for so many 
years had stamped at funerals, and gnawed the 
tops of so many posts, and imagined he killed so 
many flies because he wagged the stump of a tail, 
and, finally, had been the cause of so much dis- 
cord in the parish, seemed now to make common 
cause with his master, and stepped as if endeav- 
ouring to shake the dust from his feet as he passed 
out of the ungrateful village. Under the axle-tree 


hung suspended a leather trunk ; and in the chaise, 
between the two occupants, was a large bandbox, 
which forced Mr. Pendexter to let his legs hang 
out of the vehicle, and gave him the air of imi- 
tating the Scriptural behaviour of his horse. 
Gravely and from a distance he saluted the 
school-master, who saluted him in return, with a 
tear in his eye, that no man saw, but which, 
nevertheless, was not unseen. 

cc Farewell, poor old man ! " said the school- 
master within himself, as he shut out the cold 
autumnal air, and entered his comfortable study. 
" We are not worthy of thee, or we should have 
had thee with us forever. Go back again to the 
place of thy childhood, the scene of thine early 
labors and thine early love ; let thy days end 
where they began, and like the emblem of eter- 
nity, let the serpent of life coil itself round and 
take its tail into its mouth, and be still from all 
its hissings for evermore ! I would not call thee 
back ; for it is better thou shouldst be where 
thou art, than amid the angry contentions of this 
little town." 

Not all took leave of the old clergyman in so 
kindly a spirit. Indeed, there was a pretty gen- 
eral feeling of relief in the village, as when one 

A TALE. 47 

gets rid of an ill-fitting garment, or old-fashioned 
hat, which one neither wishes to wear, nor is 
quite willing to throw away. 

Thus Mr. Pendexter departed from the village. 
A few days afterwards he was seen at a fall 
training, or general muster of the militia, making 
a prayer on horseback, with his eyes wide 
open ; a performance in which he took evident 
delight, as it gave him an opportunity of going 
quite at large into some of the bloodiest cam- 
paigns of the ancient Hebrews. 



FOR a while the school-master walked to and 
fro, looking at the gleam of the sunshine on the 
carpet, and revelling in his day-dreams of unwrit- 
ten books, and literary fame. With these day- 
dreams mingled confusedly the pattering of little 
feet, and the murmuring and cooing of his children 
overhead. His plans that morning, could he 
have executed them, would have filled a shelf in 
his library with poems and romances of his own 
creation. But suddenly the vision vanished ; and 
another from the actual world took its place. It 
was the canvas-covered cart of the butcher, that, 
like the flying wigwam of the Indian tale, flitted 
before his eyes. It drove up the yard and stop- 
ped at the back door ; and , the poet felt that the 
sacred rest of Sunday, the God's-truce with 
worldly cares, was once more at an end. A 

A TALE. 49 

dark hand passed between him and the land of 
light. Suddenly closed the ivory gate of dreams, 
and the horn gate of every-day life opened, and 
he went forth to deal with the man of flesh and 

" Alas ! " said he with a sigh ; u and must my 
life, then, always be like the Sabbatical river of 
the Jews, flowing in full stream only on the 
seventh day, and sandy and arid all the rest ? " 

Then he thought of his beautiful wife and 
children, and added, half aloud, 

" No ; not so ! Rather let me look upon the 
seven days of the week as the seven magic rings 
of Jarchas, each inscribed with the name of a 
separate planet, and each possessing a peculiar 
power ; or as the seven sacred and mysterious 
stones which the pilgrims of Mecca were forced 
to throw over their shoulders in the valleys of 
Menah and Akbah, cursing the devil and saying 
at each throw, ' God is great ! ' 

He found Mr. Wilmerdings, the butcher, stand- 
ing beside his cart, and surrounded by five cats, 
that had risen simultaneously on their hind legs, 
to receive their quotidian morning's meal. Mr. 
Wilmerdings not only supplied the village with 
fresh provisions daily, but he likewise weighed all 


the babies. There was hardly a child in town 
that had not hung beneath his steelyards, tied 
in a silk handkerchief, the movable weight above 
sliding along the notched beam from eight pounds 
to twelve. He was a young man with a very 
fresh and rosy complexion, and every Monday 
morning he appeared dressed in an exceedingly 
white frock. He had lately married a milliner, 
who sold "Dunstable and eleven-braid, open- 
work and colored straws," and their bridal tour 
had been to a neighbouring town to see a man 
hanged for murdering his wife. A pair of huge 
ox-horns branched from the gable of his slaughter- 
house ; and near it stood the great pits of the 
tannery, which all the school-boys thought were 
filled with blood ! 

Perhaps no two men could be more unlike than 
Mr. Churchill and Mr. Wilmerdings. Upon 
such a grating, iron hinge opened the door of his 
daily life ; opened into the school-room, the 
theatre of those life-long labors, which theoreti- 
cally are the most noble, and practically the most 
vexatious in the world. Toward this, as soon 
as breakfast was over, and he had played awhile 
with his children, he directed his steps. On his 
way, he had many glimpses into the lovely realms 

A TALE. 51 

of Nature, and one into those of Art, through the 
medium of a placard pasted against a wall. It 
was as follows : 

" The subscriber professes to take profiles, 
plain and shaded, which, viewed at right-angles 
with the serious countenance, are warranted to be 
infallibly correct. 

" No trouble of adorning or dressing the person 
is required. He takes infants and children at 
sight, and has frames of all sizes to accommodate. 

u A profile is a delineated outline of the ex- 
terior form of any person's face and head, the use 
of which when seen tends to vivify the affections 
of those whom we esteem or love. 


Ere long even this glimpse into the ideal world 
had vanished ; and he felt himself bound to the 
earth with a hundred invisible threads, by which a 
hundred urchins were tugging and tormenting 
him ; and it was only with considerable effort, 
and at intervals, that his mind could soar to the 
moral dignity of his profession. 

Such was the school-master's life ; and a 
dreary, weary life it would have been, had not 


poetry from within gushed through every crack 
and crevice in it. This transformed it, and made 
it resemble a well, into which stones and rubbish 
have been thrown ; but underneath is a spring of 
fresh, pure water, which nothing external can 
ever check or defile. 

A TALE. 53 


MR. PENDEXTER had departed. Only a few 
old and middle-aged people regretted him. To 
these few, something was wanting in the service 
ever afterwards. They missed the accounts of 
the Hebrew massacres, and the wonderful tales 
of the Zumzummims ; they missed the venerable 
gray hair, and the voice that had spoken to them 
in childhood, and forever preserved the memory 
of it in their hearts, as in the Russian church the 
old hymns of the earliest centuries are still piously 

The winter came, with ah 1 its affluence of 
snows, and its many candidates for the vacant 
pulpit. But the parish was difficult to please, as 
all parishes are ; and talked of dividing itself, and 
building a new church, and other extravagances, 
as all parishes do. Finally it concluded to re- 


main as it was, and the choice of a pastor was 

The events of the winter were few in number, 
and can be easily described. The following ex- 
tract from a school-girl's letter to an absent 
friend contains the most important : 

" At school, things have gone on pretty much 
as usual. Jane Brown has grown very pale. 
They say she is in a consumption ; but I think it 
is because she eats so many slate-pencils. One 
of her shoulders has grown a good deal higher 
than the other. Billy Wilmer dings has been 
turned out of school for playing truant. He 
promised his mother, if she would not whip him, 
he would experience religion. I am sure I wish 
he would ; for then he would stop looking at me 
through the hole in the top of his desk. Mr. 
Churchill is a .very curious man. To-day he 
gave us this question in arithmetic : c One-fifth of 
a hive of bees flew to the Kadamba flower ; one- 
third flew to the Silandhara ; three times the 
difference of these two numbers flew to an 
arbor ; and one bee continued flying about, 
attracted on each side by the fragrant Ketaki 
and the Malati. What was the number of bees ? ' 
Nobody could do the sum. 

A TALE. 55 

" The church has been repaired, and we 
have a new mahogany pulpit. Mr. Churchill 
bought the old one, and had it put up in his 
study. What a strange man he is ! A good many 
candidates have preached for us. The only one 
we like is Mr. Kavanagh. Arthur Kavanagh ! 
is not that a romantic name ? He is tall, very 
pale, with beautiful black eyes and hair ! Sally 
Alice Archer's Sally says c he is not a 
man ; he is a Thaddeus of Warsaw ! ' I think 
he is very handsome. And such sermons ! So 
beautifully written, so different from old Mr. 
Pendexter's ! He has been invited to settle 
here ; but he cannot come till Spring. Last 
Sunday he preached about the ruling passion. 
He said that once a German nobleman, when 
he was dying, had his hunting-horn blown in his 
bed-room, and his hounds let in, springing and 
howling about him ; and that so it was with the 
ruling passions of men ; even around the death- 
bed, at the well-known signal, they howled and 
leaped about those that had fostered them ! 
Beautiful, is it not ? and so original ! He said 
in another sermon, that disappointments feed and 
nourish us in the desert places of life, as the 
ravens did the Prophet in the wilderness ; and 


that as, in Catholic countries, the lamps lighted 
before the images of saints, in narrow and danger- 
ous streets, not only served as offerings of devo- 
tion, but likewise as lights to those who passed, 
so, in the dark and dismal streets of the city of 
Unbelief, every good thought, word, and deed 
of a man, not only was an offering to heaven, but 
likewise served to light him and others on their 
way homeward ! I have taken a good many 
notes of Mr. Kavanagh's sermons, which you 
shall see when you come back. 

u Last week we had a sleigh-ride, with six 
white horses. We went like the wind over the 
hollows in the snow ; the driver called them 
' thank-you-ma'ams,' because they make every 
body bow. And such a frantic ball as we had at 
Beaverstock ! I wish you had been there ! We 
did not get home till two o'clock in the morning ; 
and the next day Hester Green's minister asked 
her if she did not feel the fire of a certain place 
growing hot under her feet, while she was 
dancing ! 

" The new fashionable boarding-school begins 
next week. The prospectus has been sent to our 
house. One of the regulations is, ' Young ladies 
are not allowed to cross their benders in school ' ! 

A TALE. 57 

Papa says he never heard them called so before. 
Old Mrs. Plainfield is gone at last. Just before 
she died, her Irish chamber-maid asked her if she 
wanted to be buried with her false teeth in ! 
There has not been a single new engagement 
since you went away. But somebody asked me 
the other day if you were engaged to Mr. Pills- 
bury. I was very angry. Pillsbury, indeed ! 
He is old enough to be your father ! 

" What a long, rambling letter I am writing 
you ! and only because you will be so naughty 
as to stay away and leave me all alone. If you 
could have seen the moon last night ! But what 
a goose I am ! as if you did not see it ! Was 
it not glorious ? You cannot imagine, dearest, 
how every hour in the day I wish you were here 
with me. I know you would sympathize with 
all my feelings, which Hester does not at all. 
For, if I admire the moon, she says I am roman- 
tic, and, for her part, if there is any thing she 
despises, it is the moon ! and that she prefers 
a snug, warm bed (O, horrible !) to all the moons 
in the universe ! " 



THE events mentioned in this letter were the 
principal ones that occurred during the winter. 
The case of Billy Wilmerdings grew quite 
desperate. In vain did his father threaten and 
the school-master expostulate ; he was only the 
more sullen and stubborn. In vain did his 
mother represent to his weary mind, that, if he 
did not study, the boys who knew the dead 
languages would throw stones at him in the street ; 
he only answered that he should like to see them 
try it. Till, finally, having lost many of his 
illusions, and having even discovered that his 
father was not the greatest man in the world, 
on the breaking up of the ice in the river, to his 
own infinite relief and that of the whole village, 
he departed on a coasting trip in a fore-and-aft 
schooner, which constituted the entire navigation 
of Fairmeadow. 

A TALE. 59 

Mr. Churchill had really put up in his study the 
old white, wine-glass-shaped pulpit. It served 
as a play-house for his children, who, whether 
in it or out of it, daily preached to his heart, 
and were a living illustration of the way to enter 
into the kingdom of heaven. Moreover, he him- 
self made use of it externally as a note-book, 
recording his many meditations with a pencil on 
the white panels. The following will serve as 
a specimen of this pulpit eloquence : 

Morality without religion is only a kind of 
dead-reckoning, an endeavour to find our place 
on a cloudy sea by measuring the distance we 
have run, but without any observation of the 
heavenly bodies. 

Many readers judge of the power of a book 
by the shock it gives their feelings, as some 
savage tribes determine the power of muskets by 
their recoil ; that being considered best which 
fairly prostrates the purchaser. 

Men of genius are often dull and inert in 
society ; as the blazing meteor, when it descends 
to earth, is only a stone. 


The natural alone is permanent. Fantastic 
idols may be worshipped for a while ; but at 
length they are overturned by the continual and 
silent progress of Truth, as the grim statues 
of Copan have been pushed from their pedestals 
by the growth of forest-trees, whose seeds were 
sown by the wind in the ruined walls. 

The every-day cares and duties, which men 
call drudgery, are the weights and counterpoises 
of the clock of time, giving its pendulum a true 
vibration, and its hands a regular motion ; and 
when they cease to hang upon the wheels, the 
pendulum no longer swings, the hands no longer 
move, the clock stands still. 

The same object, seen from the three differ- 
ent points of view, the Past, the Present, and 
the Future, often exhibits three different faces 
to us ; like those sign-boards over shop doors, 
which represent the face of a lion as we ap- 
proach, of a man when we are in front, and of 
an ass when we have passed. 

In character, in manners, in style, in all things, 
the supreme excellence is simplicity. 

A TALE. 61 

With many readers, brilliancy of style passes 
for affluence of thought ; they mistake buttercups 
in the grass for immeasurable gold mines under 

The motives and purposes of authors are not 
always so pure and high, as, in the enthusiasm 
of youth, we sometimes imagine. To many the 
trumpet of fame is nothing but a tin horn to call 
them home, like laborers from the field, at dinner- 
time ; and they think themselves lucky to get the 

The rays of happiness, like those of light, are 
colorless when unbroken. 

Critics are sentinels in the grand army of 
letters, stationed at the corners of newspapers 
and reviews, to challenge every new author. 

The country is lyric, the town dramatic. 
When mingled, they make the most perfect 
musical drama. . 

Our passions never wholly die ; but in the 
last cantos of life's romantic epos, they rise up 


again and do battle, like some of Ariosto's he- 
roes, who have already been quietly interred, 
and ought to be turned to dust. 

This country is not priest-ridden, but press- 

Some critics have the habit of rowing up 
the Heliconian rivers with their backs turned, 
so as to see the landscape precisely as the poet 
did not see it. Others see faults in a book much 
larger than the book itself ; as Sancho Panza, 
with his eyes blinded, beheld from his wooden 
horse the earth no larger than a grain of mus- 
tard-seed, and the men and women on it as large 
as hazel-nuts. 

Like an inundation of the Indus is the course 
of Time. We look for the homes of our child- 
hood, they are gone ; for the friends of our child- 
hood, they are gone. The loves and animosities 
of youth, where are they ? Swept away like the 
camps that had been pitched in the sandy bed 
of the river. 

As no saint can be canonized until the Devil's 

A TALE. 63 

Advocate has exposed all his evil deeds, and 
showed why he should not be made a saint, so no 
poet can take his station among the gods until 
the critics have said all that can be said against 

It is curious to note the old sea-margins of 
human thought ! Each subsiding century reveals 
some new mystery ; we build where monsters 
used to hide themselves. 



AT length the Spring came, and brought the 
birds, and the flowers, and Mr. Kavanagh, the 
new clergyman, who was ordained with all the 
pomp and ceremony usual on such occasions. 
The opening of the season furnished also the 
theme of his first discourse, which some of the 
congregation thought very beautiful, and others 
very incomprehensible. 

Ah, how wonderful is the advent of the 
Spring ! the great annual miracle of the blos- 
soming of Aaron's rod, repeated on myriads and 
myriads of branches ! the gentle progression 
and growth of herbs, flowers, trees, gentle, 
and yet irrepressible, which no force can stay, 
no violence restrain, like love, that wins its way 
and cannot be withstood by any human power, 
because itself is divine power. If Spring came 

A TALE. 65 

but once in a century, instead of once a year, 
or burst forth with the sound of an earthquake, 
and not in silence, what wonder and expectation 
would there be in all hearts to behold the mi- 
raculous change ! 

But now the silent succession suggests nothing 
but necessity. To most men, only the cessation 
of the miracle would be miraculous, and the per- 
petual exercise of God's power seems less won- 
derful than its withdrawal would be. We are 
like children who are astonished and delighted 
only by the second-hand of the clock, not by 
the hour-hand. 

Such was the train of thought with which 
Kavanagh commenced his sermon. And then, 
with deep solemnity and emotion, he proceeded 
to speak of the Spring of the soul, as from its 
cheerless wintry distance it turns nearer and 
nearer to the great Sun, and clothes its dry and 
withered branches anew with leaves and blossoms, 
unfolded from within itself, beneath the pene- 
trating and irresistible influence. 

While delivering the discourse, Kavanagh had 
not succeeded so entirely in abstracting him- 
self from all outward things as not to note in 
some degree its effect upon his hearers. As in 


modern times no applause is permitted in our 
churches, however moved the audience may be, 
and, consequently, no one dares wave his hat and 
shout, u Orthodox Chrysostom ! Thirteenth 
Apostle ! Worthy the Priesthood ! " as was 
done in the days of the Christian Fathers ; and, 
moreover, as no one after church spoke to him 
of his sermon, or of any thing else, he went 
home with rather a heavy heart, and a feeling 
of discouragement. One thing had cheered and 
consoled him. It was the pale countenance of 
a young girl, whose dark eyes had been fixed 
upon him during the whole discourse with un- 
flagging interest and attention. She sat alone 
in a pew near the pulpit. It was Alice Archer. 
Ah ! could he have known how deeply sank his 
words into that simple heart, he might have 
shuddered with another kind of fear than that 
of not moving his audience sufficiently ! 

A TALE. 67 




ON the following morning Kavanagh sat musing 
upon his worldly affairs, and upon various lit- 
tle household arrangements which it would be 
necessary for him to make. To aid him in 
these, he had taken up the village paper, and 
was running over the columns of advertisements, 
those narrow and crowded thoroughfares, in 
which the wants and wishes of humanity display 
themselves like mendicants without disguise. His 
eye ran hastily over the advantageous offers 
of the cheap tailors and the dealers in patent 
medicines. He wished neither to be clothed 
nor cured. In one place he saw that a young 
lady, perfectly competent, desired to form a 
class of young mothers and nurses, and to in- 
struct them in the art of talking to infants so 
as to interest and amuse them ; and in another, 


that the firemen of Fairmeadow wished well to 
those hostile editors who had called them gam- 
blers, drunkards, and rioters, and hoped that they 
might be spared from that great fire which they - 
were told could never be extinguished ! Finally 
his eye rested on the advertisement of a carpet 
warehouse, in which the one-price system was 
strictly adhered to. It was farther stated that a 
discount would be made u to clergymen on small 
salaries, feeble churches, and charitable institu- 
tions." Thinking that this was doubtless the 
place for one who united in himself two of these 
qualifications for a discount, with a smile on 
his lips, he took his hat and sallied forth into 
the street. 

A few days previous, Kavanagh had discovered 
in the tower of the church a vacant room, which 
he had immediately determined to take possession 
of, and to convert into a study. From this 
retreat, through the four oval windows, fronting 
the four corners of the heavens, he could look 
down upon the streets, the roofs and gardens of 
the village, on the winding river, the meadows, 
the farms, the distant blue mountains. Here 
he could sit and meditate, in that peculiar sense 
of seclusion and spiritual elevation, that entire 


separation from the world below, which a cham- 
ber in a tower always gives. Here, uninter- 
rupted and aloof from all intrusion, he could 
pour his heart into those discourses, with which 
he hoped to reach and move the hearts of his 

It was to furnish this retreat, that he went forth 
on the Monday morning after his first sermon. 
He was not long in procuring the few things 
needed, the carpet, the table, the chairs, the 
shelves for books ; and was returning thought- 
fully homeward, when his eye was caught by a 
sign-board on the corner of the street, inscribed 
" Moses Merry weather, Dealer in Singing Birds, 
foreign and domestic." He saw also a whole 
chamber window transformed into a cage, in 
which sundry canary-birds, and others of gayer 
plumage, were jargoning together, like people 
in the market-places of foreign towns. At the 
sight of these old favorites, a long slumbering 
passion awoke within him ; and he straightway 
ascended the dark wooden staircase, with the 
intent of enlivening his solitary room with the 
vivacity and songs of these captive ballad-singers. 

In a moment he found himself in a little room 
hung round with cages, roof and walls ; full of 


sunshine ; full of twitterings, cooings, and flutter- 
ings ; full of downy odors, suggesting nests, and 
dovecots, and distant islands inhabited only by 
birds. The taxidermist the Selkirk of the 
sunny island was not there ; but a young lady 
of noble mien, who was looking at an English 
goldfinch in a square cage with a portico, turned 
upon him, as he entered, a fair and beautiful face, 
shaded by long, light locks, in which the sunshine 
seemed entangled, as among the boughs of trees. 
That face he had never seen before, and yet it 
seemed familiar to him ; and the added light in 
her large, celestial eyes, and the almost imper- 
ceptible expression that passed over her face, 
showed that she knew who he was. 

At the same moment the taxidermist presented 
himself, coming from an inner room ; a little 
man in gray, with spectacles upon his nose, 
holding in his hands, with wings and legs drawn 
close and smoothly together, like the green husks 
of the maize ear, a beautiful carrier-pigeon, who 
turned up first one bright eye and then the other, 
as if asking, "What are you going to do with 
me now ? " This silent inquiry was soon an- 
swered by Mr. Merryweather, who said to the 
young lady, 

A TALE. 71 

" Here, Miss Vaughan, is the best carrier- 
pigeon in my whole collection. The real Co- 
lumba Tabullaria. He is about three years 
old, as you can see by his wattle." 

"A very pretty bird," said the lady; "and 
how shall I train it ? " 

"O, that is very easy. You have only to keep 
it shut up for a few days, well fed and well 
treated. Then take it in an open cage to the 
place you mean it to fly to, and do the same 

thing there. Afterwards it will give you no 

trouble ; it will always fly between those two 

" That, certainly, is not very difficult. At all 
events, I will make the trial. You may send the 
bird home to me. On what shall I feed it ? " 

" On any kind of grain, barley and buck- 
wheat are best ; and remember to let it have a 
plenty of gravel in the bottom of its cage." 

" I will not forget. Send me the bird to-day, 
if possible." 

With these words she departed, much too 
soon for Kavanagh, who was charmed with her 
form, her face, her voice ; and who, when left 
alone with the little taxidermist, felt that the 
momentary fascination of the place was gone. 


He heard no longer the singing of the birds ; he 
saw no longer their gay plumage ; and having 
speedily made the purchase of a canary and a 
cage, he likewise departed, thinking of the carrier- 
pigeons of Bagdad, and the columbaries of Egypt, 
stationed at fixed intervals as relays and resting- 
places for the flying post. With an indefinable 
feeling of sadness, too, came wafted like a per- 
fume through his memory those tender, melan- 
choly lines of Maria del Occidente : 

" And as the dove, to far Palmyra flying, 

From where her native founts of Antioch beam, 
Weary, exhausted, longing, panting, sighing, 
Lights sadly at the desert's bitter stream j 

So many a soul, o'er life's drear desert faring, 
Love's pure, congenial spring unfound, unquaffed, 

Suffers, recoils, then, thirsty and despairing 
Of what it would, descends and sips the nearest draught." 

Meanwhile, Mr. Merry weather, left to him- 
self, walked about his aviary, musing, and talking 
to his birds. Finally he paused before the tin 
cage of a gray African parrot, between which 
and himself there was a strong family likeness, 
and, giving it his finger to peck and perch upon, 
conversed with it in that peculiar dialect with 

A TALE. 73 

which it had often made vocal the distant groves 
of Zanguebar. He then withdrew to the inner 
room, where he resumed his labor of stuffing a 
cardinal grossbeak, saying to himself between 

" I wonder what Miss Cecilia Vaughan means 
to do with a carrier-pigeon ! " 

Some mysterious connection he had evidently 
established already between this pigeon and Mr. 
Kavanagh ; for, continuing his revery, he said, 
half aloud, 

" Of course she would never think of marrying 
a poor clergyman ! " 



THE old family mansion of the Vaughans 
stood a little out of town, in the midst of a 
pleasant farm. The county road was not near 
enough to annoy ; and the rattling wheels and 
little clouds of dust seemed like friendly saluta- 
tions from travellers as they passed. They 
spoke of safety and companionship, and took 
away all loneliness from the solitude. 

On three sides, the farm was inclosed by 
willow and alder hedges, and the flowing wall 
of a river ; nearer the house were groves 
clear of all underwood, with rocky knolls, and 
breezy bowers of beech ; and afar off the blue 
hills broke the horizon, creating secret longings 
for what lay beyond them, and filling the mind 
with pleasant thoughts of Prince Rasselas and the 
Happy Valley. 

A TALE. 75 

The house was one of the few old houses still 
standing in New England; a large, square 
building, with a portico in front, whose door 
in Summer time stood open from morning until 
night. A pleasing stillness reigned about it ; 
and soft gusts of pine-embalmed air, and distant 
cawings from the crow-haunted mountains, filled 
its airy and ample halls. 

In this old-fashioned house had Cecilia Vaughan 
grown up to maidenhood. The travelling shad- 
ows of the clouds on the hill-sides, the sudden 
Summer wind, that lifted the languid leaves, and 
rushed from field to field, from grove to grove, 
the forerunner of the rain, and, most of all, 
the mysterious mountain, whose coolness was a 
perpetual invitation to her, and whose silence a 
perpetual fear, fostered her dreamy and poetic 
temperament. Not less so did the reading of 
poetry and romance in the long, silent, solitary 
winter evenings. Her mother had been dead for 
many years, and the memory of that mother had 
become almost a religion to her. She recalled 
it incessantly ; and the reverential love, which 
it inspired, completely filled her soul with melan- 
choly delight. Her father was a kindly old 
man ; a judge in one of the courts ; digni- 


fied, affable, somewhat bent by his legal erudi- 
tion, as a shelf is by the weight of the books 
upon it. His papers encumbered the study 
table ; his law books, the study floor. They 
seemed to shut out from his mind the lovely 
daughter, who had grown up to womanhood 
by his side, but almost without his recognition. 
Always affectionate, always indulgent, he left 
her to walk alone, without his stronger thought 
and firmer purpose to lean upon ; and though her 
education had been, on this account, somewhat 
desultory, and her imagination indulged in many 
dreams and vagaries, yet, on the whole, the result 
had been more favorable than in many cases where 
the process of instruction has been too diligently 
carried on, and where, as sometimes on the roofs 
of farm-houses and barns, the scaffolding has 
been left to deform the building. 

Cecilia's bosom-friend at school was Alice 
Archer ; and, after they left school, the love be- 
tween them, and consequently the letters, rather 
increased than diminished. These two young 
hearts found not only a delight, but a necessity 
in pouring forth their thoughts and feelings to 
each other ; and it was to facilitate this inter- 
communication, for whose exigencies the ordi- 

A TALE. 77 

nary methods were now found inadequate, that 
the carrier-pigeon had been purchased. He was 
to be the flying post ; their bed-rooms the dove- 
cots, the pure and friendly columbaria. 

Endowed with youth, beauty, talent, fortune, 
and, moreover, with that indefinable fascination 
which has no name, Cecilia Vaughan was not 
without lovers, avowed and unavowed ; young 
men, who made an ostentatious display of their 
affection; boys, who treasured it in their bo- 
soms, as something indescribably sweet and pre- 
cious, perfuming all the chambers of the heart with 
its celestial fragrance. Whenever she returned 
from a visit to the city, some unknown youth 
of elegant manners and varnished leather boots 
was sure to hover round the village inn for a few 
days, was known to visit the Vaughans assid- 
uously, and then silently to disappear, and be 
seen no more. Of course, nothing could be 
known of the secret history of such individuals ; 
but shrewd surmises were formed as to their 
designs and their destinies ; till finally, any well- 
dressed stranger, lingering in the village without 
ostensible business, was set down as " one of 
Miss Vaughan's lovers." 

In all this, what a contrast was there between 


the two young friends ! The wealth of one and 
the poverty of the other were not so strikingly 
at variance, as this affluence and refluence of 
love. To the one, so much was given that she 
became regardless of the gift ; from the other, so 
much withheld, that, if possible, she exaggerated 
its importance. 



IN addition to these transient lovers, who were 
but birds of passage, winging their way, in an 
incredibly short space of time, from the torrid 
to the frigid zone, there was in the village a 
domestic and resident adorer, whose love for 
himself, for Miss Vaughan, and for the beauti- 
ful, had transformed his name from Hiram A. 
Hawkins to H. Adolphus Hawkins. He was 
a dealer in English linens and carpets ; a pro- 
fession which of itself fills the mind with ideas 
of domestic comfort. His waistcoats were made 
like Lord Melbourne's in the illustrated English 
papers, and his shiny hair went off to the left 
in a superb sweep, like the hand-rail of a ban- 
nister. He wore many rings on his fingers, 
and several breast-pins and gold chains dis- 
posed about his person. On all his bland physi- 


ognomy was stamped, as on some of his linens, 
u Soft finish for family use." Every thing 
about him spoke the lady's man. He was, in 
fact, a perfect ring-dove ; and, like the rest of 
his species, always walked up to the female, 
and, bowing his head, swelled out his white crop, 
and uttered a very plaintive murmur. 

Moreover, Mr. Hiram Adolphus Hawkins 
was a poet, so much a poet, that, as his sister 
frequently remarked, he " spoke blank verse 
in the bosom of his family." The general 
tone of his productions was sad, desponding, 
perhaps slightly morbid. How could it be other- 
wise with the writings of one who had never 
been the world's friend, nor the world his ? 
who looked upon himself as " a pyramid of 
mind on the dark desert of despair "? and who, 
at the age of twenty-five, had drunk the bitter 
draught of life to the dregs, and dashed the 
goblet down ? His productions were published 
in the Poet's Corner of the Fairmeadow Adver- 
tiser ; and it was a relief to know, that, in private 
life, as his sister remarked, he was " by no 
means the censorious and moody person some 
of his writings might imply." 

Such was the personage who assumed to 



himself the perilous position of Miss Vaughan's 
permanent admirer. He imagined that it was 
impossible for any woman to look upon him and 
not love him. Accordingly, he paraded him- 
self at his shop-door as she passed ; he pa- 
raded himself at the corners of the streets ; 
he paraded himself at the church-steps on Sun- 
day. He spied her from the window ; he sallied 
from the door ; he followed her with his eyes ; 
he followed her with his whole august person ; 
he passed her and repassed her, and turned 
back to gaze ; he lay in wait with dejected 
countenance and desponding air ; he persecuted 
her with his looks ; he pretended that their 
souls could comprehend each other without 
words ; and whenever her lovers were alluded 
to in his presence, he gravely declared, as one 
who had reason to know, that, if Miss Vaughan 
ever married, it would be some one of gigantic 
intellect ! 

Of these persecutions Cecilia was for a long 
time the unconscious victim. She saw this 
individual, with rings and strange waistcoats, per- 
forming his gyrations before her, but did not 
suspect that she was the centre of attraction, 
not imagining that any man would begin his 


wooing with such outrages. Gradually the truth 
dawned upon her, and became the source of 
indescribable annoyance, which was augmented 
by a series of anonymous letters, written in a 
female hand, and setting forth the excellences 
of a certain mysterious relative," his modesty, 
his reserve, his extreme delicacy, his talent for 
poetry, rendered authentic by extracts from his 
papers, made, of course, without the slightest 
knowledge or suspicion on his part. Whence 
came these sibylline leaves ? At first Cecilia 
could not divine ; but, ere long, her woman's in- 
stinct traced them to the thin and nervous hand of 
the poet's sister. This surmise was confirmed by 
her maid, who asked the boy that brought them. 
It was with one of these missives in her hand 
that Cecilia entered Mrs. Archer's house, after 
purchasing the carrier-pigeon. Unannounced she 
entered, and walked up the narrow and imper- 
fectly lighted stairs to Alice's bed-room, that 
little sanctuary draped with white, that colum- 
barium lined with warmth, and softness, and 
silence. Alice was not there ; but the chair 
by the window, the open volume of poems on 
the table, the note to Cecilia by its side, and 
the ink not yet dry in the pen, were like the 

A TALE. 83 

vibration of a bough, when the bird has just 
left it, like the rising of the grass, when the 
foot has just pressed it. In a moment she re- 
turned. She had been down to her mother, 
who sat talking, talking, talking, with an old 
friend in the parlour below, even as these young 
friends were talking together, in the bed-room 
above. Ah, how different were their themes ! 
Death and Love, apples of Sodom, that 
crumble to ashes at a touch, golden fruits of 
the Hesperides, golden fruits of Paradise, fra- 
grant, ambrosial, perennial ! 

" I have just been writing to you," said Alice ; 
" I wanted so much to see you this morning ! " 

cc Why this morning in particular ? Has any 
thing happened ? " 

" Nothing, only I had such a longing to see 
you ! " 

And, seating herself in a low chair by Cecilia's 
side, she laid her head upon the shoulder of her 
friend, who, taking one of her pale, thin hands 
in both her own, silently kissed her forehead 
again and again. 

Alice was not aware, that, in the words she 
uttered, there was the slightest shadow of un- 
truth. And yet had nothing happened ? Was 


it nothing, that among her thoughts a new thought 
had risen, like a star, whose pale effulgence, 
mingled with the common daylight, was not 
yet distinctly visible even to herself, but would 
grow brighter as the sun grew lower, and the 
rosy twilight darker ? Was it nothing, that a 
new fountain of affection had suddenly sprung 
up within her, which she mistook for the fresh- 
ening and overflowing of the old fountain of 
friendship, that hitherto had kept the lowland 
landscape of her life so green, but now, being 
flooded by more affection, was not to cease, 
but only to disappear in the greater tide, and 
flow unseen beneath it ? Yet so it was ; and 
this stronger yearning this unappeasable de- 
sire for her friend was only the tumultuous 
swelling of a heart, that as yet knows not its 
own secret. 

u I am so glad to see you, Cecilia ! " she con- 
tinued. u You are so beautiful ! I love so 
much to sit and look at you ! Ah, how I wish 
Heaven had made me as tall, and strong, and 
beautiful as you are ! " 

" You little flatterer ! What an affectionate, 
lover-like friend you are ! What have you been 
doing all the morning ? " 



" Looking out of the window, thinking of you, 
and writing you this letter, to beg you to come 
and see me." 

" And I have been buying a carrier-pigeon, to 
fly between us, and carry all our letters." 

" That will be delightful." 

<c He is to be sent home to-day ; and after he 
gets accustomed to my room, I shall send him 
here, to get acquainted with yours ; a lachimo 
in my Imogen's bed-chamber, to spy out its 

" If he sees Cleopatra in these white curtains, 
and silver Cupids in these andirons, he will have 
your imagination." 

" He will see the book with the leaf turned 
down, and you asleep, and tell me all about 

" A carrier-pigeon ! What a charming idea ! 
and how like you to think of it ! " 

" But to-day I have been obliged to bring my 
own letters. I have some more sibylline leaves 
from my anonymous correspondent, in laud and 
exaltation of her modest relative, who speaks 
blank verse in the bosom of his family. I have 
brought them to read you some extracts, and to 
take your advice ; for, really and seriously, this 
must be stopped. It has grown too annoying." 


" How much love you have offered you ! " 
said Alice, sighing. 

" Yes, quite too much of this kind. On my 
way here, I saw the modest relative, standing at 
the corner of the street, hanging his head in this 

And she imitated the melancholy Hiram Adol- 
phus, and the young friends laughed. 

" I hope you did not notice him ? " resumed 

" Certainly not. But what do you suppose he 
'did ? As soon as he saw me, he began to walk 
backward down the street only a short distance in 
front of me, staring at me most impertinently. 
Of course, I took no notice of this strange con- 
duct. I felt myself blushing to the eyes with in- 
dignation, and yet could hardly suppress my 
desire to laugh." 

u If you had laughed, he would have taken it 
for an encouragement ; and I have no doubt it 
would have brought on the catastrophe." 

u And that would have ended the matter. I 
half wish I had laughed." 

" But think of the immortal glory of marrying 
a poet ! " 

" And of inscribing on my cards, Mrs. Hiram 
Adolphus Hawkins ! " 

A TALE. 87 

" A few days ago, I went to buy something at 
his shop ; and, leaning over the counter, he asked 
me if I had seen the sun set the evening before, 
adding, that it was gorgeous, and that the grass 
and trees were of a beautiful Paris green ! " 

And again the young friends gave way to their 

" One thing, dear Alice, you must consent to 
do for me. You must write to Miss Martha 
Amelia, the author of all these epistles, and tell 
her very plainly how indelicate her conduct is, 
and how utterly useless all such proceedings will 
prove in effecting her purpose." 

u I will write this very day. You shall be no 
longer persecuted." 

" And now let me give you a few extracts 
from these wonderful epistles." 

So saying, Cecilia drew forth a small package 
of three-cornered billets, tied with a bit of pink 
ribbon. Taking one of them at random, she was 
on the point of beginning, but paused, as if her 
attention had been attracted by something out of 
doors. The sound of passing footsteps was 
heard on the gravel walk. 

" There goes Mr. Kavanagh," said she, in a 


Alice rose suddenly from her low chair at 
Cecilia's side, and the young friends looked from 
the window to see the clergyman pass. 

u How handsome he is ! " said Alice, invol- 

u He is, indeed." 

At that moment Alice started back from the 
window. Kavanagh had looked up in passing, as 
if his eye had been drawn by some secret magnet- 
ism. A bright color flushed the cheek of Alice ; 
her eyes fell ; but Cecilia continued to look 
steadily into the street. Kavanagh passed on, 
and in a few moments was out of sight. 

The two friends stood silent, side by side. 

A TALE. 89 


ARTHUR KAVANAGH was descended from an 
ancient Catholic family. His ancestors had pur- 
chased from the Baron Victor of St. Castine a 
portion of his vast estates, lying upon that wild 
and wonderful sea-coast of Maine, which, even 
upon the map, attracts the eye hy its singular and 
picturesque indentations, and fills the heart of the 
beholder with something of that delight which 
throbbed in the veins of Pierre du Gast, when, 
with a royal charter of the land from the Atlantic 
to the Pacific, he sailed down the coast in all the 
pride of one who is to be prince of such a vast 
domain. Here, in the bosom of the solemn 
forests, they continued the practice of that faith 
which had first been planted there by Rasle and 
St. Castine ; and the little church where they 
worshipped is still standing, though now as closed 


and silent as the graves which surround it, and in 
which the dust of the Kavanaghs lies buried. 

In these solitudes, in this faith, was Kavanagh 
born, and grew to childhood, a feeble, delicate 
boy, watched over by a grave and taciturn father, 
and a mother who looked upon him with infinite 
tenderness, as upon a treasure she should not long 
retain. She walked with him by the sea-side, 
and spake to him of God, and the mysterious 
majesty of the ocean, with its tides and tempests. 
She sat with him on the carpet of golden threads 
beneath the aromatic pines, and, as the perpetual 
melancholy sound ran along the rattling boughs, 
his soul seemed to rise and fall, with a motion and 
a whisper like those in the branches over him. 
She taught him his letters from the Lives of the 
Saints, a volume full of wondrous legends, and 
illustrated with engravings from pictures by the 
old masters, which opened to him at once the 
world of spirits and the world of art ; and both 
were beautiful. She explained to him the pic- 
tures ; she read to him the legends, the lives 
of holy men and women, full of faith and good 
works, things which ever afterward remained 
associated together in his mind. Thus holiness 
of life, and self-renunciation, and devotion to duty, 

A TALE. 91 

were early impressed upon his soul. To his 
quick imagination, the spiritual world became 
real ; the holy company of the saints stood round 
about the solitary boy ; his guardian angels led 
him by the hand by day, and sat by his pillow at 
night. At times, even, he wished to die, that he 
might see them and talk with them, and return no 
more to his weak and weary body. 

Of all the legends of the mysterious book, that 
which most delighted and most deeply impressed 
him was the legend of St. Christopher. The pic- 
ture was from a painting of Paolo Farinato, rep- 
resenting a figure of gigantic strength and stature, 
leaning upon a staff, and bearing the infant Christ 
on his bending shoulders across the rushing 
river. The legend related, that St. Christopher, 
being of huge proportions and immense strength, 
wandered long about the world before his con- 
version, seeking for the greatest king, and willing 
to obey no other. After serving various masters, 
whom he in turn deserted, because each recog- 
nized by some word or sign another greater than 
himself, he heard by chance of Christ, the king 
of heaven and earth, and asked of a holy hermit 
where he might be found, and how he might serve 
him. The hermit told him he must fast and 


pray ; but the giant replied that if he fasted he 
should lose his strength, and that he did not know 
how to pray. Then the hermit told him to take 
up his abode on the banks of a dangerous moun- 
tain torrent, where travellers were often drowned 
in crossing, and to rescue any that might be in 
peril. The giant obeyed ; and tearing up a palm- 
tree by the roots for a staff, he took his station by 
the river's side, and saved many lives. And the 
Lord looked down from heaven and said, u Be- 
hold this strong man, who knows not yet the way 
to worship, but has found the way to serve me ! " 
And one night he heard the voice of a child, 
crying in the darkness and saying, " Christo- 
pher ! come and bear me over the river ! " 
And he went out, and found the child sitting alone 
on the margin of the stream ; and taking him upon 
his shoulders, he waded into the water. Then 
the wind began to roar, and the waves to rise 
higher and higher about him, and. his little burden, 
which at first had seemed so light, grew heavier 
and heavier as he advanced, and bent his huge 
shoulders down, and put his life in peril ; so that, 
when he reached the shore, he said, u Who art 
thou, O child, that hast weighed upon me with a 
weight, as if I had borne the whole world upon 


my shoulders ? " And the little 
u Thou hast borne the whole world 
shoulders, and Him who created it. I am Christ, 
whom thou by thy deeds of charity wouldst serve. 
Thou and thy service are accepted. Plant thy 
staff in the ground, and it shall blossom and bear 
fruit ! " With these words, the child vanished 

There was something in this beautiful legend 
that entirely captivated the heart of the boy, 
and a vague sense of its hidden meaning seemed 
at times to seize him and control him. Later in 
life it became more and more evident to him, and 
remained forever in his mind as a lovely allegory 
of active charity and a willingness to serve. Like 
the giant's staff, it blossomed and bore fruit. 

But the time at length came, when his father 
decreed that he must be sent away to school. It 
was not meet that his son should be educated as a 
girl. He must go to the Jesuit college in Can- 
ada. Accordingly, one bright Summer morning, 
he departed with his father, on horseback, through 
those majestic forests that stretch with almost un- 
broken shadows from the sea to the St. Law- 
rence, leaving behind him all the endearments of 
home, and a wound in his mother's heart that 


never ceased to ache, a longing, unsatisfied 
and insatiable, for her absent Arthur, who had 
gone from her perhaps for ever. 

At college he distinguished himself by his zeal 
for study, by the docility, gentleness, and gener- 
osity of his nature. There he was thoroughly 
trained in the classics, and in the dogmas of that 
august faith, whose turrets gleam with such crys- 
talline light, and whose dungeons are so deep, and 
dark, and terrible. The study of philosophy and 
theology was congenial to his mind. Indeed, he 
often laid aside Homer for Parmenides, and 
turned from the odes of Pindar and Horace to the 
mystic hymns of Cleanthes and Synesius. 

The uniformity of college life was broken only 
by the annual visit home in the Summer vacation ; 
the joyous meeting, the bitter parting ; the long 
journey to and fro through the grand, solitary, 
mysterious forest. To his mother these visits 
were even more precious than to himself; for 
ever more and more they added to her boundless 
affection the feeling of pride and confidence and 
satisfaction, the joy and beauty of a youth un- 
spotted from the world, and glowing with the en- 
thusiasm of virtue. 

At length his college days were ended. He 

A TALE. 95 

returned home full of youth, full of joy and hope ; 
but it was only to receive the dying blessings of 
his mother, who expired in peace, having seen his 
face once more. Then the house became empty 
to him. Solitary was the sea-shore, solitary were 
the woodland walks. But the spiritual world 
seemed nearer and more real. For affairs he had 
no aptitude ; and he betook himself again to his 
philosophic and theological studies. He ponder- 
ed with fond enthusiasm on the rapturous pages 
of Molinos and Madame Guy on ; and in a spirit 
akin to that which wrote, he read the writings of 
Santa Theresa, which he found among his moth- 
er's books, the Meditations, the Road to Per- 
fection, and the Moradas, or Castle of the 
Soul. She, too, had lingered over those pages 
with delight, and there were many passages 
marked by her own hand. Among them was 
this, which he often repeated to himself in his 
lonely walks : u O, Life, Life ! how canst thou 
sustain thyself, being absent from thy Life ? In 
so great a solitude, in what shalt thou employ thy- 
self ? What shalt thou do, since all thy deeds 
are faulty and imperfect ? " 

In such meditations passed many weeks and 
months. But mingled with them, continually and 


ever with more distinctness, arose in his memory 
from the days of childhood the old tradition of 
Saint Christopher, the beautiful allegory of 
humility and labor. He and his service had been 
accepted, though he would not fast, and had not 
learned to pray ! It became more and more 
clear to him, that the life of man consists not in 
seeing visions, and in dreaming dreams, but in 
active charity and willing service. 

Moreover, the study of ecclesiastical history 
awoke within him many strange and dubious 
thoughts. The books taught him more than their 
writers meant to teach. It was impossible to 
read of Athanasius without reading also of Arian ; 
it was impossible to hear of Calvin without hear- 
ing of Servetus. Reason began more energeti- 
cally to vindicate itself ; that Reason, which is a 
light in darkness, not that which is u a thorn in 
Revelation's side." The search after Truth and 
Freedom, both intellectual and spiritual, became 
a passion in his soul ; and he pursued it until he 
had left far behind him many dusky dogmas, 
many antique superstitions, many time-honored 
observances, which the lips of her alone, who 
first taught them to him in his childhood, had 
invested with solemnity and sanctity. 

A TALE. 97 

By slow degrees, and not by violent spiritual 
conflicts, he became a Protestant. He had but 
passed from one chapel to another in the same 
vast cathedral. He was still beneath the same 
ample roof, still heard the same divine service 
chanted in a different dialect of the same universal 
language- Out of his old faith he brought with 
him all he had found in it that was holy and pure 
and of good report. Not its bigotry, and fanati- 
cism, and intolerance ; but its zeal, its self-devo- 
tion, its heavenly aspirations, its human sympa- 
thies, its endless deeds of charity. Not till after 
his father's death, however, did he become a 
clergyman. Then his vocation was manifest to 
him. He no longer hesitated, but entered upon 
its many duties and responsibilities, its many 
trials and discouragements, with the zeal of Peter 
and the gentleness of John. 



A WEEK later, and Kavanagh was installed in 
his little room in the church- tower. A week 
later, and the carrier-pigeon was on the wing. 
A week later, and Martha Amelia's anonymous 
epistolary eulogies of her relative had ceased 
for ever. 

Swiftly and silently the Summer advanced, 
and the following announcement in the Fair- 
meadow Advertiser proclaimed the hot weather 
and its alleviations : 

" I have the pleasure of announcing to the 
Ladies and Gentlemen of Fairmeadow and its 
vicinity, that my Bath House is now completed, 
and ready for the reception of those who are 
disposed to regale themselves in a luxury peculiar 
to the once polished Greek and noble Roman. 

A TALE. 99 

u To the Ladies I will say, that Tuesday of 
each week will be appropriated to their exclu- 
sive benefit ; the white flag will be the signal ; 
and I assure the Ladies, that due respect shall 
be scrupulously observed, and that they shall 
be guarded from each vagrant foot and each 
licentious eye. 


Moreover, the village was enlivened by the 
usual travelling shows, the wax-work figures 
representing Eliza Wharton and the Salem 
Tragedy, to which clergymen and their families 
were u respectfully invited, free on presenting 
their cards " ; a stuffed shark, that had eaten 
the exhibitor's father in Lynn bay ; the me- 
nagerie, with its loud music and its roars of rage ; 
the circus, with its tan and tinsel, its faded 
columbine and melancholy clown ; and, finally, 
the standard drama, in which Elder Evans, like 
an ancient Spanish Bululu, impersonated all the 
principal male characters, and was particularly 
imposing in lago and the Moor, having half his 
face lamp-blacked, and turning now the luminous, 
now the eclipsed side to the audience, as the 
exigencies of the dialogue demanded. 


There was also a great Temperance Jubilee, 
with a procession, in which was conspicuous a 
large horse, whose shaven tail was adorned with 
gay ribbons, and whose rider bore a banner with 
the device, " Shaved in the Cause " ! More- 
over, the Grand Junction Railroad was opened 
through the town, running in one direction to the 
ciiy, and in the other into unknown northern 
regions, stringing the white villages like pearls 
upon its black thread. By this, the town lost 
much of its rural quiet and seclusion. The in- 
habitants became restless and ambitious. They 
were in constant excitement and alarm, like 
children in story-books hidden away somewhere 
by an ogre, who visits them regularly every 
day and night, and occasionally devours one of 
them for a meal. 

Nevertheless, most of the inhabitants con- 
sidered the railroad a great advantage to the 
village. Several ladies were heard to say that 
Fairmeadow had grown quite metropolitan ; and 
Mrs. Wilmerdings, who suffered under a chronic 
suspension of the mental faculties, had a vague 
notion, probably connected with the profession 
of her son, that it was soon to become a sea- 

A TALE. 101 

In the fields and woods, meanwhile, there were 
other signs and signals of the Summer. The 
darkening foliage ; the embrowning grain ; the 
golden dragon-fly haunting the blackberry-bushes ; 
the cawing crows, that looked down from the 
mountain on the corn-field, and waited day after 
day for the scarecrow to finish his work and 
depart ; and the smoke of far-off burning woods, 
that pervaded the air and hung in purple haze 
about the summits of the mountains, these were 
the avant-couriers and attendants of the hot 

Kavanagh had now completed the first great 
cycle of parochial visits. He had seen the 
Vaughans, the Archers, the Churchills, and also 
the Hawkinses and the Wilmerdingses, and many 
more. With Mr. Churchill he had become 
intimate. They had many points of contact 
and sympathy. They walked together on leisure 
afternoons ; they sat together through long Sum- 
mer evenings ; they discoursed with friendly 
zeal on various topics of literature, religion, 
and morals. 

Moreover, he worked assiduously at his ser- 
mons. He preached the doctrines of Christ. 
He preached holiness, self-denial, love ; and his 


hearers remarked that he almost invariably took 
his texts from the Evangelists, as much as 
possible from the words of Christ, and seldom 
from Paul, or the Old Testament. He did not 
so much denounce vice, as inculcate virtue ; 
he did not deny, but affirm ; he did not lacerate 
the hearts of his hearers with doubt and dis- 
belief, but consoled, and comforted, and healed 
them with faith. 

The only danger was that he might advance 
too far, and leave his congregation behind him ; 
as a piping shepherd, who, charmed with his 
own music, walks over the flowery mead, not 
perceiving that his tardy flock is lingering far 
behind, more intent upon cropping the thymy 
food around them, than upon listening to the 
celestial harmonies that are gradually dying away 
in the distance. 

His words were always kindly ; he brought 
no railing accusation against any man ; he dealt 
in no exaggerations nor over-statements. But 
while he was gentle, he was firm. He did not 
refrain from reprobating intemperance because 
one of his deacons owned a distillery ; nor war, 
because another had a contract for supplying the 
army with muskets ; nor slavery, because one 

A TALE. 103 

of the great men of the village slammed his 
pew-door, and left the church with a grand air, 
as much as to say, that all that sort of thing 
would not do, and the clergy had better confine 
itself to abusing the sins of the Hindoos, and 
let our domestic institutions alone. 

In affairs ecclesiastical he had not suggested 
many changes. One that he had much at heart 
was, that the partition wall between parish and 
church should be quietly taken down, so that all 
should sit together at the Supper of the Lord. 
He also desired that the organist should relinquish 
the old and pernicious habit of preluding with 
triumphal marches, and running his fingers at 
random over the keys of his instrument, playing 
scraps of secular music very slowly to make 
them sacred, and substitute instead some of the 
beautiful symphonies of Pergolesi, Palestrina, and 
Sebastian Bach. 

He held that sacred melodies were becoming 
to sacred themes ; and did not wish, that, in his 
church, as in some of the French Canadian 
churches, the holy profession of religion should 
be sung to the air of " When one is dead 't is for 
a long time," the commandments, aspirations for 
heaven, and the necessity of thinking of one's sal- 


vation, to " The Follies of Spain," " Louisa was 
sleeping in a grove," or a grand " March of the 
French Cavalry." 

The study in the tower was delightful. There 
sat the young apostle, and meditated the great 
design and. purpose of his life, the removal of all 
prejudice, and uncharitableness, and persecution, 
and the union of all sects into one church univer- 
sal. Sects themselves he would not destroy, 
but sectarianism ; for sects were to him only as 
separate converging roads, leading all to the 
same celestial city of peace. As he sat alone, 
and thought of these things, he heard the great 
bell boom above him, and remembered the 
ages when in all Christendom there was but one 
Church ; when bells were anointed, baptized, and 
prayed for, that, wheresoever those holy bells 
should sound, all deceits of Satan, all danger of 
whirlwinds, thunders, lightnings, and tempests, 
might be driven away, that devotion might in- 
crease in every Christian when he heard them, 
and that the Lord would sanctify them with his 
Holy Spirit, and infuse into them the heavenly 
dew of the Holy Ghost. He thought of the great 
bell Guthlac, which an abbot of Croyland gave to 
his monastery, and of the six others given by his 

A TALE. 105 

successor, so musical, that, when they all rang 
together, as Ingulphus affirms, there was no ringing 
in England equal to it. As he listened, the bell 
seemed to breathe upon the air such clangorous 
sentences as, 

"Laudo Deum venim, plebem voco, congrego clerum, 
Defunctos ploro, nimbum fugo, festaque honoro." 

Possibly, also, at times, it interrupted his studies 
and meditations with other words than these. 
Possibly it sang into his ears, as did the bells 
of Varennes into the ears of Panurge, u Marry 
thee, marry thee, marry, marry ; if thou shouldst 
marry, marry, marry, thou shalt find good therein, 
therein, therein, so marry, marry." 

From this tower of contemplation he looked 
down with mingled emotions of joy and sorrow on 
the toiling world below. The wide prospect 
seemed to enlarge his sympathies and his char- 
ities ; and he often thought of the words of Plato : 
u When we consider human life, we should view 
as from a high tower all things terrestrial ; such 
as herds, armies, men employed in agriculture, in 
marriages, divorces, births, deaths ; the tumults 
of courts of justice ; desolate lands ; various 
barbarous nations ; feasts, wailings, markets ; a 


medley of all things, in a system adorned by con- 

On the outside of the door Kavanagh had 
written the vigorous line of Dante, 

" Think that To-day shall never dawn again ! " 

that it might always serve as a salutation and 
memento to him as he entered. On the inside, 
the no less striking lines of a more modern 

" Lose this day loitering, 't will be the same story 
To-morrow, and the next more dilatory. 
The indecision brings its own delays, 
And days are lost, lamenting o'er lost days. 
Are you in earnest ? Seize this very minute ! 
What you can do or think you can, begin it ! 
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it ! 
Only engage, and then the mind grows heated : 
Begin it, and the work will be completed." 

Once, as he sat in this retreat near noon, enjoy- 
ing the silence, and the fresh air that visited him 
through the oval windows, his attention was arrest- 
ed by a cloud of dust, rolling along the road, out 
of which soon emerged a white horse, and then 
a very singular, round-shouldered, old-fashioned 
chaise, containing an elderly couple, both in 

A TALE. 107 

black. What particularly struck him was the 
gait of the horse, who had a very disdainful 
fling to his hind legs. The slow equipage passed, 
and would have been for ever forgotten, had not 
Kavanagh seen it again at sunset, stationary at 
Mr. Churchill's door, towards which he was 
directing his steps. 

As he entered, he met Mr. Churchill, just 
taking leave of an elderly lady and gentleman in 
black, whom he recognized as the travellers in the 
old chaise. Mr. Churchill looked a little flushed 
and disturbed, and bade his guests farewell with 
a constrained air. On seeing Kavanagh, he 
saluted him, and called him by name ; whereupon 
the lady pursed up her mouth, and, after a quick 
glance, turned away her face ; and the gentle- 
man passed with a lofty look, in which curiosity, 
reproof, and pious indignation were strangely 
mingled. They got into the chaise, with some 
such feelings as Noah and his wife may be sup- 
posed to have had on entering the ark ; the 
whip descended upon the old horse with unusual 
vigor, accompanied by a jerk of the reins that 
caused him to say within himself, " What is the 
matter now ? " He then moved off at his usual 
pace, and with that peculiar motion of the hind 


legs which Kavanagh had perceived in the 

Kavanagh found his friend not a little disturbed, 
and evidently by the conversation of the departed 

44 That old gentleman," said Mr. Churchill, 
"is your predecessor, Mr. Pendexter. He 
thinks we are in a bad way since he left us. He 
considers your liberality as nothing better than 
rank Arianism and infidelity. The fact is, the 
old gentleman is a little soured ; the vinous fer- 
mentation in his veins is now over, and the 
acetous has commenced." 

Kavanagh smiled, but made no answer. 

44 1, of course, defended you stoutly," con- 
tinued Mr. Churchill ; " but if he goes about the 
village sowing such seed, there will be tares 
growing with the wheat." 

44 1 have no fears," said Kavanagh, very 

Mr. Churchill's apprehensions were not, how- 
ever, groundless ; for in the course of the week it 
came out that doubts, surmises, and suspicions of 
Kavanagh's orthodoxy were springing up in many 
weak but worthy minds. And it was ever after 
observed, that, whenever that fatal, apocalyptic 

A TALE. 109 

white horse and antediluvian chaise appeared 
in town, many parishioners were harassed with 
doubts and perplexed with theological difficulties 
and uncertainties. 

Nevertheless, the main current of opinion was 
with him ; and the parish showed their grateful 
acknowledgment of his zeal and sympathy, by 
requesting him to sit for his portrait to a great 
artist from the city, who was passing the Summer 
months in the village for recreation, using his 
pencil only on rarest occasions and as a particular 
favor. To this martyrdom the meek Kavanagh 
submitted without a murmur. During the prog- 
ress of this work of art, he was seldom left 
alone ; some one of his parishioners was there to 
enliven him ; and most frequently it was Miss 
Martha Amelia Hawkins, who had become very 
devout of late, being zealous in the Sunday 
School, and requesting her relative not to walk 
between churches any more. She took a very 
lively interest in the portrait, and favored with 
many suggestions the distinguished artist, who 
found it difficult to obtain an expression which 
would satisfy the parish, some wishing to have it 
grave, if not severe, and others with " Mr. Kava- 
nagh's peculiar smile." Kavanagh himself was 


quite indifferent about the matter, and met his 
fate with Christian fortitude, in a white cravat and 
sacerdotal robes, with one hand hanging down 
from the back of his chair, and the other holding 
a large book with the fore-finger between its 
leaves, reminding Mr. Churchill of Milo with his 
fingers in the oak. The expression of the face 
was exceedingly bland and resigned ; perhaps a 
little wanting in strength, but on the whole satis- 
factory to the parish. So was the artist's price ; 
nay, it was even held by some persons to be 
cheap, considering the quantity of back-ground he 
had put in. 

A TALE. Ill 


MEANWHILE, things had gone on very quietly 
and monotonously in Mr. Churchill's family. 
Only one event, and that a mysterious one, had 
disturbed its serenity. It was the sudden disap- 
pearance of Lucy, the pretty orphan girl ; and as 
the booted centipede, who had so much excited 
Mr. Churchill's curiosity, disappeared at the same 
time, there was little doubt that they had gone 
away together. But whither gone, and where- 
fore, remained a mystery. 

Mr. Churchill, also, had had his profile, and 
those of his wife and children, taken, in a very 
humble style, by Mr. Bantam, whose advertise- 
ment he had noticed on his way to school nearly 
a year before. His own was considered the best, 
as a work of art. The face was cut out entire- 
ly ; the collar of the coat velvet ; the shirt-collar 


very high and white ; and the top of his head 
ornamented with a crest of hair turning up in 
front, though his own turned down, which 
slight deviation from nature was explained and 
justified by the painter as a license allowable 
in art. 

One evening, as he was sitting down to 
begin for at least the hundredth time the great 
Romance, subject of so many resolves and so 
much remorse, so often determined upon but 
never begun, a loud knock at the street-door, 
which stood wide open, announced a visitor. 
Unluckily, the study-door was likewise open ; 
and consequently, being in full view, he found 
it impossible to refuse himself; nor, in fact, 
would he have done so, had all the doors 
been shut and bolted, the art of refusing 
one's self being at that time but imperfectly 
understood in Fairmeadow. Accordingly, the 
visitor was shown in. 

He announced himself as Mr. Hathaway. 
Passing through the village, he could not deny 
himself the pleasure of calling on Mr. Churchill, 
whom he knew by his writings in the periodicals, 
though not personally. He wished, moreover, to 
secure the cooperation of one already so favora- 

A TALE. 113 

bly blown to the literary world, in a new Maga- 
zine he was about to establish, in order to raise 
the character of American literature, which, in 
his opinion, the existing reviews and magazines 
had entirely failed to accomplish. A daily in- 
creasing want of something better was felt by the 
public ; and the time had come for the establish- 
ment of such a periodical as he proposed. After 
explaining in rather a florid and exuberant manner 
his plan and prospects, he entered more at large 
into the subject of American literature, which it 
was his design to foster and patronize. 

"I think, Mr. Churchill," said he, " that we 
want a national literature commensurate with 
our mountains and rivers, commensurate with 
Niagara, and the Alleghanies, and the Great 
Lakes ! " 

" Oh ! 

" We want a national epic that shall corre- 
spond to the size of the country ; that shall be 
to all other epics what Banvard's Panorama of 
the Mississippi is to all other paintings, the 
largest in the world ! " 

" Ah ! 

" We want a national drama in which scope 
enough shall be given to our gigantic ideas, and 


to the unparalleled activity and progress of our 
people ! " 

" Of course." 

u In a word, we want a national literature 
altogether shaggy and unshorn, that shall shake 
the earth, like a herd of buffaloes thundering 
over the prairies ! " 

" Precisely," interrupted Mr. Churchill ; " but 
excuse me ! are you not confounding things 
that have no analogy ? Great has a very differ- 
ent meaning when applied to a river, and when 
applied to a literature. Large and shallow may 
perhaps be applied to both. Literature is rather 
an image of the spiritual world, than of the physi- 
cal, is it not ? of the internal, rather than the 
external. Mountains, lakes, and rivers are, after 
all, only its scenery and decorations, not its sub- 
stance and essence. A man will not necessarily 
be a great poet because he lives near a great 
mountain. Nor, being a poet, will he necessarily 
write better poems than another, because he lives 
nearer Niagara." 

" But, Mr. Churchill, you do not certainly 
mean to deny the influence of scenery on the 
mind ? " 

" No, only to deny that it can create genius. 

A TALE. 115 

At best, it can only develop it. Switzerland has 
produced no extraordinary poet ; nor, as far as 
I know, have the Andes, or the Himalaya moun- 
tains, or the Mountains of the Moon in Africa." 

" But, at all events," urged Mr. Hathaway, 
" let us have our literature national. If it is not 
national, it is nothing." 

" On the contrary, it may be a great deal. 
Nationality is a good thing to a certain extent, but 
universality is better. All that is best in the great 
poets of all countries is not what is national in 
them, but what is universal. Their roots are in 
their native soil ; but their branches wave in the 
unpatriotic air, that speaks the same language unto 
all men, and their leaves shine with the illimitable 
light that pervades all lands. Let us throw all 
the windows open ; let us admit the light and air 
on all sides ; that we may look towards the four 
corners of the heavens, and not always in the 
same direction." 

" But you admit nationality to be a good 
thing ? " 

u Yes, if not carried too far ; still, I confess, it 
rather limits one's views of truth. I prefer what 
is natural. Mere nationality is often ridiculous. 
Every one smiles when he hears the Icelandic 


proverb, c Iceland is the best land the sun shines 
upon.' Let us be natural, and we shall be nation- 
al enough. Besides, our literature can be strictly 
national only so far as our character and modes 
of thought differ from those of other nations. 
Now, as we are very like the English, are, in 
fact, English under a different sky, I do not see 
how our literature can be very different from 
theirs. Westward from hand to hand we pass 
the lighted torch, but it was lighted at the old 
domestic fireside of England." 

" Then you think our literature is never to be 
any thing but an imitation of the English ? " 

" Not at all. It is not an imitation, but, as 
some one has said, a continuation." 

u It seems to me that you take a very narrow 
view of the subject." 

" On the contrary, a very broad one. No 
literature is complete until the language in which 
it is written is dead. We rnay well be proud of 
our task and of our position. Let us see if we 
can build in any way worthy of our forefathers." 

" But I insist upon originality." 

"Yes; but without spasms and convulsions. 
Authors must not, like Chinese soldiers, expect 
to win victories by turning somersets in the air." 

A TALE. 117 

u Well, really, the prospect from your point 
of view is not very brilliant. Pray, what do you 
think of our national literature ? " 

u Simply, that a national literature is not the 
growth of a day. Centuries must contribute their 
dew and sunshine to it. Our own is growing 
slowly but surely, striking its roots downward, 
and its branches upward, as is natural ; and I do 
not wish, for the sake of what some people call 
originality, to invert it, and try to make it grow 
with its roots in the air. And as for having it so 
savage and wild as you want it, I have only to 
say, that all literature, as well as all art, is the 
result of culture and intellectual refinement." 

u Ah ! we do not want art and refinement ; we 
want genius, untutored, wild, original, free." 

" But, if this genius is to find any expression, 
it must employ art ; for art is the external ex- 
pression of our thoughts. Many have genius, but, 
wanting art, are for ever dumb. The two must 
go together to form the great poet, painter, or 
sculptor." , 

4t In that sense, very well." 

" I was about to say also that I thought our 
literature would finally not be wanting in a kind 
of universality. 


u As the blood of all nations is mingling with 
our own, so will their thoughts and feelings 
finally mingle in our literature. We shall draw 
from the Germans tenderness ; from the Span- 
iards, passion ; from the French, vivacity, to 
mingle more and more with our English solid 
sense. And this will give us universality, so 
much to be desired." 

" If that is your way of thinking," interrupted 
the visitor, "you will like the work I am now 
engaged upon." 

" What is it ? " 

" A great national drama, the scene of which 
is laid in New Mexico. It is entitled Don 
Serafin, or the Marquis of the Seven Churches. 
The principal characters are Don Serafin, an 
old Spanish hidalgo ; his daughter Deseada ; and 
Fra Serapion, the Curate. The play opens 
with Fra Serapion at breakfast ; on the table a 
game-cock, tied by the leg, sharing his master's 
meal. Then follows a scene at the cock-pit, 
where the Marquis stakes the remnant of his 
fortune his herds and hacienda on a favorite 
cock, and loses." 

" But what do you know about cock-fighting ? " 

A TALE. 119 

demanded, rather than asked, the astonished and 
half-laughing school-master. 

" I am not very well informed on that subject, 
and I was going to ask you if you could not 
recommend some work." 

" The only work I am acquainted with," re- 
plied Mr. Churchill, " is the Reverend Mr. 
Pegge's Essay on Cock-fighting among the An- 
cients ; and I hardly see how you could apply 
that to the Mexicans." 

" Why, they are a kind of ancients, you 
know. I certainly will hunt up the essay you 
mention, and see what I can do with it." 

" And all I know about the matter itself," 
continued Mr. Churchill, " is, that Mark An- 
tony was a patron of the pit, and that his cocks 
were always beaten by Caesar's ; and that, when 
Themistocles the Athenian general was march- 
ing against the Persians, he halted his army to 
see a cock-fight, and made a speech to his sol- 
diery, to the effect, that those animals fought not 
for the gods of their country, nor for the mon- 
uments of their ancestors, nor for glory, nor for 
freedom, nor for their children, but only for 
the sake of victory. On his return to Athens, 


he established cock-fights in that capital. But 
how this is to help you in Mexico I do not 
see, unless you introduce Santa Anna, and 
compare him to Caesar and Themistocles." 

u That is it ; I will do so. It will give 
historic interest to the play. I thank you for 
the suggestion." 

" The subject is certainly very original ; but 
it does not strike me as particularly national." 

" Prospective, you see ! " said Mr. Hatha- 
way, with a penetrating look. 

u Ah, yes ; I perceive you fish with a heavy 
sinker, down, far down in the future, among 
posterity, as it were." 

" You have seized the idea. Besides, I obvi- 
ate your objection, by introducing an American 
circus company from the United States, which 
enables me to bring horses on the stage and 
produce great scenic effect." 

" That is a bold design. The critics will 
be out upon you without fail." 

" Never fear that. I know the critics root 
and branch, out and out, have summered 
them and wintered them, in fact, am one of 
them myself. Very good fellows are the critics ; 
are they not ? " 


" O, yes ; only they have suclT 
way of talking down upon authors." 

" If they did not talk down upon them, they 
would show no superiority ; and, of course, that 
would never do." 

" Nor is it to be wondered at, that authors 
are sometimes a little irritable. I often recall 
the poet in the Spanish fable, whose manu- 
scripts were devoured by mice, till at length 
he put some corrosive sublimate into his ink, 
and was never troubled again." 

" Why don't you try it yourself?" said Mr. 
Hathaway, rather sharply. 

u O," answered Mr. Churchill, with a smile 
of humility, u I and my writings are too in- 
significant. They may gnaw and welcome. I 
do not like to have poison about, even for such 

" By the way, Mr. Churchill," said the visitor, 
adroitly changing the subject, " do you know 
Honeywell ? " 

"No, I do not. Who is he?" 

" Honeywell the poet, I mean." 

" No, I never even heard of him. There 
are so many poets now-a-days ! " 

" That is very strange indeed ! Why, I con- 


sider Honeywell one of the finest writers in 
the country, quite in the front rank of Ameri- 
can authors. He is a real poet, and no mistake. 
Nature made him with her shirt-sleeves rolled 

" What has he published ? " 

u He has not published any thing yet, except 
in the newspapers. But, this Autumn, he is 
going to bring out a volume of poems. I could 
not help having my joke with him about it. T 
told him he had better print it on cartridge- 

" Why so ? " 

u Why, to make it go off better; don't you 
understand ?" 

" O, yes ; now that you explain it. Very 

" Honeywell is going to write for the Maga- 
zine ; he is to furnish a poem for every number ; 
and as he succeeds equally well in the plaintive 
and didactic style of Wordsworth, and the more 
vehement and impassioned style of Byron, I 
think we shall do very well." 

" And what do you mean to call the new 
Magazine ? " inquired Mr. Churchill. 

" We think of calling it The Niagara." 

A TALE. 123 

" Why, that is the name of our fire-engine ! 
Why not call it The Extinguisher?" 

" That is also a good name ; but I prefer 
The Niagara, as more national. And I hope, 
Mr. Churchill, you will let us count upon you. 
We should like to have an article from your 
pen for every number." 

u Do you mean to pay your contributors ? " 

" Not the first year, I am sorry to say. But 
after that, if the work succeeds, we shall pay 
handsomely. And, of course, it will succeed, 
for we mean it shall ; and we never say fail. 
There is no such word in our dictionary. Be- 
fore the year is out, we mean to print fifty 
thousand copies ; and fifty thousand copies will 
give us, at least, one hundred and fifty thousand 
readers ; and, with such an audience, any author 
might be satisfied." 

He had touched at length the right strings in 
Mr. ChurchilPs bosom ; and they vibrated to 
the touch with pleasant harmonies. Literary 
vanity ! literary ambition ! The editor per- 
ceived it ; and so cunningly did he play upon 
these chords, that, before he departed, Mr. 
Churchill had promised to write for him a series 
of papers on Obscure Martyrs, a kind of 


tragic history of the unrecorded and life-long 
sufferings of women, which hitherto had found 
no historian, save now and then a novelist. 

Notwithstanding the certainty of success, 
notwithstanding the fifty thousand subscribers and 
the one hundred and fifty thousand readers, 
the Magazine never went into operation. Still 
the dream was enough to occupy Mr. Churchill's 
thoughts, and to withdraw them entirely from his 
Romance for many weeks together. 

A TALE. 125 


EVERY state, and almost every county, of 
New England, has its Roaring Brook, a moun- 
tain streamlet, overhung by woods, impeded by 
a mill, encumbered by fallen trees, but ever 
racing, rushing, roaring dow r n through gurgling 
gullies, and filling the forest with its delicious 
sound and freshness ; the drinking-place of home- 
returning herds ; the mysterious haunt of squir- 
rels and blue-jays ; the sylvan retreat of school- 
girls, who frequent it on Summer holidays, and 
mingle their restless thoughts, their overflowing 
fancies, their fair imaginings, with its restless, 
exuberant, and rejoicing stream. 

Fairmeadow had no Roaring Brook. As its 
name indicates, it was too level a land for that. 
But the neighbouring town of Westwood, lying 
more inland, and among the hills, had one of the 


fairest and fullest of all the brooks that roar. 
It was the boast of the neighbourhood. Not 
to have seen it, was to have seen no brook, 
no waterfall, no mountain ravine. And, conse- 
quently, to behold it and admire, was Kavanagh 
taken by Mr. Churchill as soon as the Summer 
vacation gave leisure and opportunity. The 
party consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Churchill, and 
Alfred, in a one-horse chaise ; and Cecilia, 
Alice, and Kavanagh, in a carryall, the fourth 
seat in which was occupied by a large basket, 
containing what the Squire of the Grove, in Don 
Quixote, called his "fiambreras," that mag- 
niloquent Castilian word for cold collation. Over 
warm uplands, smelling of clover and mint ; 
through cool glades, still wet with the rain of 
yesterday ; along the river ; across the rattling 
and tilting planks of wooden bridges ; by or- 
chards ; by the gates of fields, w T ith the tall 
mullen growing at the bars ; by stone walls over- 
run with privet and barberries ; in sun and heat, 
in shadow and coolness, forward drove the 
happy party on that pleasant Summer morning. 
At length they reached the Roaring Brook. 
From a gorge in the mountains, through a long, 
winding gallery of birch, and beech, and pine, 

A TALE. 127 

leaped the bright, brown waters of the jubilant 
streamlet ; out of the woods, across the plain, 
under the rude bridge of logs, into the woods 
again, a day between two nights. With it 
went a song that made the heart sing likewise ; 
a song of joy, and exultation, and freedom ; a 
continuous and unbroken song of life, and pleas- 
ure, and perpetual youth. Like the old Ice- 
landic Scald, the streamlet seemed to say, 

"I am possessed of songs such as neither 
the spouse of a king, nor any son of man, can 
repeat : one of them is called the Helper ; it 
will help thee at thy need, in sickness, grief, and 
all adversity." 

The little party left their carriages at a farm- 
house by the bridge, and followed the rough road 
on foot along the brook ; now close upon it, 
now shut out by intervening trees. Mr. Church- 
ill, bearing the basket on his arm, walked in front 
with his wife and Alfred. Kavanagh came be- 
hind with Cecilia and Alice. The music of the 
brook silenced all conversation ; only occasional 
exclamations of delight were uttered, the irre- 
pressible applause of fresh and sensitive natures, 
in a scene so lovely. Presently, turning off 
from the road, which led directly to the mill, 


and was rough with the tracks of heavy wheels, 
they went down to the margin of the brook. 

" How indescribably beautiful this brown water 
is ! " exclaimed Kavanagh. " It is like wine, or 
the nectar of the gods of Olympus ; as if the 
falling Hebe had poured it from the goblet." 

" More like the mead or metheglin of the 
northern gods," said Mr. Churchill, " spilled 
from the drinking-horns of Valhalla." 

But all the ladies thought Kavanagh's compari- 
son the better of the two, and in fact the best that 
could be made ; and Mr. Churchill was obliged to 
retract and apologize for his allusion to the celes- 
tial ale-house of Odin. 

Ere long they were forced to cross the brook, 
stepping from stone to stone, over the little rapids 
and cascades. All crossed lightly, easily, safely ; 
even " the sumpter mule," as Mr. Churchill 
called himself, on account of the pannier. Only 
Cecilia lingered behind, as if afraid to cross. 
Cecilia, who had crossed at that same place a 
hundred times before, Cecilia, who had the 
surest foot, and the firmest nerves, of all the vil- 
lage maidens, she now stood irresolute, seized 
with a sudden tremor ; blushing, and laughing at 
her own timidity, and yet unable to advance. 

A TALE. 129 

Kavanagh saw her embarrassment, and hastened 
back to help her. Her hand trembled in his ; 
she thanked him with a gentle look and word. 
His whole soul was softened within him. His 
attitude, his countenance, his voice, were alike 
submissive and subdued. He was as one pene- 
trated with tenderest emotions. 

It is difficult to know at what moment love 
begins ; it is less difficult to know that it has 
begun. A thousand heralds proclaim it to the 
listening air ; a thousand ministers and messen- 
gers betray it to the eye. Tone, act, attitude 
and look, the signals upon the countenance, 
the electric telegraph of touch ; all these betray 
the yielding citadel before the word itself is 
uttered, which, like the key surrendered, opens 
every avenue and gate of entrance, and makes 
retreat impossible ! 

The day passed delightfully with all. They 
sat upon the stones and the roots of trees. Ce- 
cilia read, from a volume she had brought with 
her, poems that rhymed with the running water. 
The others listened and commented. Little 
Alfred waded in the stream, with his bare white 
feet, and launched boats over the falls. Noon 
had been fixed upon for dining ; but they antici- 


pated it by at least an hour. The great basket 
was opened ; endless sandwiches were drawn 
forth, and a cold pastry, as large as that of the 
Squire of the Grove. During the repast, Mr. 
Churchill slipped into the brook, while in the act 
of handing a sandwich to his wife, which caused 
unbounded mirth ; and Kavanagh sat down on a 
mossy trunk, that gave way beneath him, and 
crumbled into powder. This, also, was received 
with great merriment. 

After dinner, they ascended the brook still 
farther, indeed, quite to the mill, which was not 
going. It had been stopped in the midst of its 
work. The saw still held its hungry teeth fixed 
in the heart of a pine. Mr. Churchill took occa- 
sion to make known to the company his long 
cherished purpose of writing a poem called u The 
Song of the Saw-Mill," and enlarged on the 
beautiful associations of flood and forest connect- 
ed with the theme. He delighted himself and 
his audience with the fine fancies he meant to 
weave into his poem, and wondered nobody had 
thought of the subject before. Kavanagh said it 
had been thought of before ; and cited Kerner's 
little poem, so charmingly translated by Bryant. 
Mr. Churchill had not seen it. Kavanagh looked 

A TALE. 131 

into his pocket-book for it, but it was not to be 
found ; still he was sure that there was such 
a poem. Mr. Churchill abandoned his design. 
He had spoken, and the treasure, just as he 
touched it with his hand, was gone forever. 

The party returned home as it came, all tired 
and happy, excepting little Alfred, who was 
tired and cross, and sat sleepy and sagging on his 
father's knee, with his hat cocked rather fiercely 
over his eyes. 



THE brown Autumn came. Out of doors, it 
brought to the fields the prodigality of the yellow 
harvest, to the forest, revelations of light, 
and to the sky, the sharp air, the morning mist, 
the red clouds at evening. Within doors, the 
sense of seclusion, the stillness of closed and 
curtained windows, musings by the fireside, books, 
friends, conversation, and the long, meditative 
evenings. To the farmer, it brought surcease of 
toil, to the scholar, that sweet delirium of the 
brain which changes toil to pleasure. It brought 
the wild duck back to the reedy marshes of the 
south ; it brought the wild song back to the 
fervid brain of the poet. Without, the village 
street was paved with gold ; the river ran red 
with the reflection of the leaves. Within, the 
faces of friends brightened the gloomy walls ; the 

A TALE. 133 

returning footsteps of the long-absent gladdened 
the threshold ; and all the sweet amenities of 
social life again resumed their interrupted reign. 

Kavanagh preached a sermon on the coming 
of Autumn. He chose his text from Isaiah, 
"Who is this that cometh from Edom, with 
dyed garments from Bozrah ? this that is glori- 
ous in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of 
his strength ? Wherefore art thou red in thine 
apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth 
in the wine-vat ? " 

To Mr. Churchill, this beloved season this 
Joseph with his coat of many colors, as he was 
fond of calling it brought an unexpected guest, 
the forlorn, forsaken Lucy. The surmises of the 
family were too true. She had wandered away 
with the Briareus of boots. She returned alone, 
in destitution and despair ; and often, in the grief 
of a broken heart and a bewildered brain, was 
heard to say, 

" O, how I wish I were a Christian ! If I 
were only a Christian, I would not live any 
longer ; I would kill myself ! I am too wretch- 
ed ! 

A few days afterwards, a gloomy -looking man 
rode through the town on horseback, stopping at 


every corner, and crying into every street, with a 
loud and solemn voice, 

" Prepare ! prepare ! prepare to meet the 
living God ! " 

It was one of that fanatical sect, who believed 
the end of the world was imminent, and had pre- 
pared their ascension robes to be lifted up in 
clouds of glory, while the worn-out, weary world 
was to burn with fire beneath them, and a new 
and fairer earth to be prepared for their inherit- 
ance. The appearance of this forerunner of the 
end of the world was followed by numerous 
camp-meetings, held in the woods near the vil- 
lage, to whose white tents and leafy chapels many 
went for consolation and found despair. 

A TALE. 135 


AGAIN the two crumbly old women sat and 
talked together in the little parlour of the gloomy 
house under the poplars, and the two girls sat 
above, holding each other by the hand, thoughtful, 
and speaking only at intervals. 

Alice was unusually sad and silent. The 
mists were already gathering over her vision, 
those mists that were to deepen and darken as the 
season advanced, until the external world should 
be shrouded and finally shut from her view. Al- 
ready the landscape began to wear a pale and 
sickly hue, as if the sun were withdrawing 
farther and farther, and were soon wholly to 
disappear, as in a northern winter. But to 
brighten this northern winter there now arose 
within her a soft, auroral light. Yes, the auroral 
light of love, blushing through the whole heaven 


of her thoughts. She had not breathed that 
word to herself, nor did she recognize any thrill 
of passion in the new emotion she experienced. 
But love it was ; and it lifted her soul into a 
region, which she at once felt was native to it, 
into a subtler ether, which seemed its natural 

This feeling, however, was not all exhilaration. 
It brought with it its own peculiar languor and 
sadness, its fluctuations and swift vicissitudes of 
excitement and depression. To this the trivial 
circumstances of life contributed. Kavanagh had 
met her in the street, and had passed her with- 
out recognition ; and, in the bitterness of the 
moment, she forgot that she wore a thick veil, 
which entirely concealed her face. At an eve- 
ning party at Mr. Churchill's, by a kind of fatality, 
Kavanagh had stood very near her for a long 
time, but with his back turned, conversing with 
Miss Hawkins, from whose toils he was, in fact, 
though vainly, struggling to extricate himself; 
and, in the irritation of supposed neglect, Alice 
had said to herself, 

" This is the kind of woman which most 
fascinates men ! " 

But these cruel moments of pain were few 

A TALE. 137 

and short, while those of delight were many and 
lasting. In a life so lonely, and with so little 
to enliven and embellish it as hers, the guest in 
disguise was welcomed with ardor, and enter- 
tained without fear or suspicion. Had he been 
feared or suspected, he would have been no 
longer dangerous. He came as friendship, wiiere 
friendship was most needed ; he came as de- 
votion, where her holy ministrations were always 

Somewhat differently had the same passion 
come to the heart of Cecilia ; for as the heart is, 
so is love to the heart. It partakes of its strength 
or weakness, its health or disease. In Cecilia, 
it but heightened the keen sensation of life. 
To all eyes, she became more beautiful, more 
radiant, more lovely, though they knew not why. 
When she and Kavanagh first met, it was hardly 
as strangers meet, but rather as friends long 
separated. When they first spoke to each other, 
it seemed but as the renewal of some previous 
interrupted conversation. Their souls flowed 
together at once, without turbulence or agitation, 
like waters on the same level. As they found 
each other without seeking, so their intercourse 
was without affectation and without embarrass- 


Thus, while Alice, unconsciously to herself, 
desired the love of Kavanagh, Cecilia, as un- 
consciously, assumed it as already her own. 
Alice keenly felt her own unworthiness ; Cecilia 
made no comparison of merit. When Kava- 
nagh was present, Alice was happy, but em- 
barrassed ; Cecilia, joyous and natural. The 
former feared she might displease ; the latter 
divined from the first that she already pleased. 
In both, this was the intuition of the heart. 

So sat the friends together, as they had done 
so many times before. But now, for the first 
time, each cherished a secret, which she did not 
confide to the other. Daily, for many weeks, the 
feathered courier had come and gone from win- 
dow to window, but this secret had never been 
intrusted to his keeping. Almost daily the 
friends had met and talked together, but this 
secret had not been told. That could not be 
confided to another, which had not been confided 
to themselves ; that could not be fashioned into 
words, which was not yet fashioned into thoughts, 
but was still floating, vague and formless, through 
the mind. Nay, had it been stated in words, 
each, perhaps, would have denied it. The 
distinct apparition of this fair spirit, in a visible 

A TALE. 139 

form, would have startled them ; though, while 
it haunted all the chambers of their souls as an 
invisible presence, it gave them only solace and 

tc How very feverish your hand is, dearest ! " 
said Cecilia. " What is the matter ? Are you 
unwell ? " 

u Those are the very words my mother said 
to me this morning," replied Alice. u I feel 
rather languid and tired, that is all. I could not 
sleep last night ; I never can, when it rains." 

" Did it rain last night ? I did not hear it." 

u Yes ; about midnight, quite hard. I listened 
to it for hours. I love to lie awake, and hear the 
drops fall on the roof, and on the leaves. It 
throws me into a delicious, dreamy state, which 
I like much better than sleep." 

Cecilia looked tenderly at her pale face. Her 
eyes were very bright, and on each cheek was 
a crimson signal, the sight of which would have 
given her mother so much anguish, that, perhaps, 
it was better for her to be blind than to see. 

" When you enter the land of dreams, Alice, 
you come into my peculiar realm. I am the 
queen of that country, you know. But, of late, 
I have thought of resigning my throne. These 


endless reveries are really a great waste of time 
and strength." 

" Do you think so ? " 

u Yes; and Mr. Kavanagh thinks so, too. 
We talked about it the other evening ; and after- 
wards, upon reflection, I thought he was right." 

And the friends resolved, half in jest and half 
in earnest, that, from that day forth, the gate of 
their day-dreams should be closed. And closed 
it was, ere long ; for one, by the Angel of 
Life ; for the other, by the Angel of Death ! 

A TALE. 141 


THE project of the new Magazine being 
heard of no more, and Mr. Churchill being 
consequently deprived of his one hundred and 
fifty thousand readers, he laid aside the few notes 
he had made for his papers on the Obscure 
Martyrs, and turned his thoughts again to the 
great Romance. A whole leisure Saturday 
afternoon was before him, pure gold, with- 
out alloy. Ere beginning his task, he stepped 
forth into his garden to inhale the sunny air, 
and let his thoughts recede a little, in order 
to leap farther. When he returned, glowing 
and radiant with poetic fancies, he found, to his 
unspeakable dismay, an unknown damsel sitting 
in his arm-chair. She was rather gayly yet 
elegantly dressed, and wore a veil, which she 
raised as Mr. Churchill entered, fixing upon 
him the full, liquid orbs of her large eyes. 


u Mr. Churchill, I suppose ? " said she, rising, 
and stepping forward. 

" The same," replied the school-master, with 
dignified courtesy. 

" And will you permit me," she continued, 
not without a certain serene self-possession, " to 
introduce myself, for want of a better person to 
do it for me ? My name is Cartwright, 
Clarissa Cartwright." 

This announcement did not produce that pow- 
erful and instantaneous effect on Mr. Churchill 
which the speaker seemed to anticipate, or at 
least to hope. His eye did not brighten with 
any quick recognition, nor did he suddenly 

"What! Are you Miss Cartwright, the 
poetess, whose delightful effusions I have seen 
in all the magazines ? " 

On the contrary, he looked rather blank and 
expectant, and only said, 

" I am very glad to see you ; pray sit down." 

So that the young lady herself was obliged 
to communicate the literary intelligence above 
alluded to, which she did very gracefully, and 
then added, 

" I have come to ask a great favor of you, 

A TALE. 143 

Mr. Churchill, which I hope you will not deny 
me. By the advice of some friends, I have col- 
lected my poems together," and here she 
drew forth from a paper a large, thin manuscript, 
bound in crimson velvet, " and think of pub- 
lishing them in a volume. Now, would you not 
do me the favor to look them over, and give 
me your candid opinion, whether they are 
worth publishing ? I should value your advice 
so highly ! " 

This simultaneous appeal to his vanity and 
his gallantry from a fair young girl, standing on 
the verge of that broad, dangerous ocean, in 
which so many have perished, and looking wist- 
fully over its flashing waters to the shores of 
the green Isle of % Palms, such an appeal, from 
such a person, it was impossible for Mr. Church- 
ill to resist. He made, however, a faint show 
of resistance, a feeble grasping after some 
excuse for refusal, and then yielded. He 
received from Clarissa's delicate, trembling hand 
the precious volume, and from her eyes a still 
more precious look of thanks, and then said, 

u What name do you propose to give the 
volume ? " 

" Symphonies of the Soul, and other Poems," 


said the young lady ; "and, if you like them, 
and it would not be asking too much, I should 
be delighted to have you write a Preface, to in- 
troduce the work to the public. The publisher 
says it would increase the sale very consid- 

" Ah, the publisher ! yes, but that is not very 
complimentary to yourself," suggested Mr. 
Churchill. U I can already see your Poems 
rebelling against the intrusion of my Preface, 
and rising like so many nuns in a convent to 
expel the audacious foot that has dared to invade 
their sacred precincts." 

But it was all in vain, this pale effort at 
pleasantry. Objection was useless ; and the 
soft-hearted school-master a second time yielded 
gracefully to his fate, and promised the Preface. 
The young lady took her leave with a profusion 
of thanks and blushes ; and the dainty manu- 
script, with its delicate chirography and crimson 
cover, remained in the hands of Mr. Churchill, 
who gazed at it less as a Paradise of Dainty 
Devices than as a deed or mortgage of so 
many precious hours of his own scanty inherit- 
ance of time. 

Afterwards, when he complained a little of 

A TALE. 145 

this to his wife, who, during the interview, had 
peeped in at the door, and, seeing how he was 
occupied, had immediately withdrawn, she said 
that nobody was to blame but himself; that he 
should learn to say " No ! " and not do just as 
every romantic little girl from the Academy 
wanted him to do ; adding, as a final aggravation 
and climax of reproof, that she really believed 
he never would, and never meant to, begin his 
Romance ! 




NOT long afterwards, Kavanagh and Mr. 
Churchill took a stroll together across the fields, 
and down green lanes, walking all the bright, 
brief afternoon. From the summit of the hill, 
beside the old windmill, they saw the sun set ; 
and, opposite, the full moon rise, dewy, large, 
and red. As they descended, they felt the 
heavy dampness of the air, like water, rising to 
meet them, bathing with coolness first their 
feet, then their hands, then their faces, till they 
were submerged in that sea of dew. As they 
skirted the woodland on their homeward way, 
trampling the golden leaves under foot, they 
heard voices at a distance, singing ; and then 
saw the lights of the camp-meeting gleaming 
through the trees, and, drawing nearer, dis- 
tinguished a portion of the hymn : 

A TALE. 147 

"Don't you hear the Lord a-coming 
To the old church-yards, 

With a band of music, 

With a band of music, 

With a band of music, 
Sounding through the air ? " 

These words, at once awful and ludicrous, 
rose on the still twilight air from a hundred 
voices, thrilling with emotion, and from as many 
beating, fluttering, struggling hearts. High above 
them all was heard one voice, clear and musical 
as a clarion. 

" I know that voice," said Mr. Churchill ; " it 
is Elder Evans's." 

"Ah!" exclaimed Kavanagh, for only the 
impression of awe was upon him, "he never 
acted in a deeper tragedy than this ! How 
terrible it is ! Let us pass on." 

They hurried away, Kavanagh trembling in 
every fibre. Silently they walked, the music 
fading into softest vibrations behind them. 

" How strange is this fanaticism ! " at length 
said Mr. Churchill, rather as a relief to his 
own thoughts, than for the purpose of reviving 
the conversation. " These people really be- 
lieve that the end of the world is close at hand." 


" And to thousands," answered Kavanagh, 
u this is no fiction, no illusion of an over- 
heated imagination. To-day, to-morrow, every 
day, to thousands, the end of the world is close 
at hand. And why should we fear it ? We 
walk here as it were in the crypts of life ; at 
times, from the great cathedral above us, we 
can hear the organ and the chanting of the choir ; 
we see the light stream through the open door, 
when some friend goes up before us ; and shall 
we fear to mount the narrow staircase of the 
grave, that leads us out of this uncertain twilight 
into the serene mansions of the life eternal ? " 

They reached the wooden bridge over the 
river, which the moonlight converted into a river 
of light. Their footsteps sounded on the planks ; 
they passed without perceiving a female figure 
that stood in the shadow below on the brink of 
the stream, watching wistfully the steady flow 
of the current. It was Lucy ! Her bonnet 
and shawl were lying at her feet ; and when they 
had passed, she waded far out into the shallow 
stream, laid herself gently down in its deeper 
waves, and floated slowly away into the moon- 
light, among the golden leaves that were faded 
and fallen like herself, among the water-lilies, 

A TALE. 149 

whose fragrant white blossoms had been broken 
off and polluted long ago. Without a struggle, 
without a sigh, without a sound, she floated down- 
ward, downward, and silently sank into the silent 
river. Far off, faint, and indistinct, was heard 
the startling hymn, with its wild and peculiar 

" O, there will be mourning, mourning, mourning, mourn- 

0, there will be mourning, at the judgment-seat of 

Kavanagh's heart was full of sadness. He left 
Mr. Churchill at his door, and proceeded home- 
ward. On passing his church, he could not 
resist the temptation to go in. He climbed 
to his chamber in the tower, lighted by the 
moon. He sat for a long time gazing from 
the window, and watching a distant and feeble 
candle, whose rays scarcely reached him across 
the brilliant moon-lighted air. Gentler thoughts 
stole over him ; an invisible presence soothed 
him ; an invisible hand was laid upon his head, 
and the trouble and unrest of his spirit were 
changed to peace. 

" Answer me, thou mysterious future ! " ex- 


claimed he; " tell me, shall these things be 
according to my desires ? " 

And the mysterious future, interpreted by those 
desires, replied, 

" Soon thou shalt know all. It shall be well 
with thee ! " 

A TALE. 151 


ON the following morning, Kavanagh sat as 
usual in his study in the tower. No traces were 
left of the heaviness and sadness of the preceding 
night. It was a bright, warm morning ; and the 
window, open towards the south, let in the genial 
sunshine. The odor of decaying leaves scented 
the air ; far off flashed the hazy river. 

Kavanagh's heart, however, was not at rest. 
At times he rose from his books, and paced up 
and down his little study ; then took up his hat 
as if to go out ; then laid it down again, and 
again resumed his books. At length he arose, 
and, leaning on the window-sill, gazed for a long 
time on the scene before him. Some thought 
was laboring in his bosom, some doubt or fear, 
which alternated with hope, but thwarted any 
fixed resolve. 


Ah, how pleasantly that fair autumnal land- 
scape smiled upon him ! The great golden elms 
that marked the line of the village street, and 
under whose shadows no beggars sat ; the air 
of comfort and plenty, of neatness, thrift, and 
equality, visible everywhere ; and from far-off 
farms the sound of flails, beating the triumphal 
k march of Ceres through the land ; these were 
the sights and sounds that greeted him as he 
looked. Silently the yellow leaves fell upon the 
graves in the church-yard ; and the dew glistened 
in the grass, which was still long and green. 

Presently his attention was arrested by a dove, 
pursued by a little kingfisher, who constantly 
endeavoured to soar above it, in order to attack 
it at greater advantage. The flight of the birds, 
thus shooting through the air at arrowy speed, 
was beautiful. When they were opposite the 
tower, the dove suddenly wheeled, and darted 
in at the open window, while the pursuer held 
on his way with a long sweep, and was out of 
sight in a moment. 

At the first glance, Kavanagh recognized the 
dove, which lay panting on the floor. It was 
the same he had seen Cecilia buy of the little 
man in gray. He took it in his hands. Its heart 

A TALE. 153 

was beating violently. About its neck was a 
silken band ; beneath its wing, a billet, upon 
which was a single word, u Cecilia." The bird, 
then, was on its way to Cecilia Vaughan. He 
hailed the omen as auspicious, and, immediately 
closing the window, seated himself at his table, 
and wrote a few hurried words, which, being 
carefully folded and sealed, he fastened to the 
band, and then hastily, as if afraid his purpose 
might be changed by delay, opened the window 
and set the bird at liberty. It sailed once or 
twice round the tower, apparently uncertain and 
bewildered, or still in fear of its pursuer. Then, 
instead of holding its way over the fields to 
Cecilia Vaughan, it darted over the roofs of the 
village, and alighted at the window of Alice 

Having written that morning to Cecilia some- 
thing urgent and confidential, she was already 
waiting the answer ; and, not doubting that the 
bird had brought it, she hastily untied the silken 
band, and, without looking at the superscription, 
opened the first note that fell on the table. It 
was very brief; only a few lines, and not a name 
mentioned in it ; an impulse, an ejaculation of 
love ; every line quivering with electric fire, 


every word a pulsation of the writer's heart. 
It was signed " Arthur Kavanagh." 

Overwhelmed by the suddenness and violence 
of her emotions, Alice sat for a long time motion- 
less, holding the open letter in her hand. Then 
she read it again, and then relapsed into her 
dream of joy and wonder. It would be difficult 
to say which of the two emotions was the greater, 
her joy that her prayer for love should be 
answered, and so answered, her wonder that 
Kavanagh should have selected her ! In the 
tumult of her sensations, and hardly conscious 
of what she was doing, she folded the note and 
replaced it in its envelope. Then, for the first 
time, her eye fell on the superscription. It was 
" Cecilia Vaughan." Alice fainted. 

On recovering her senses, her first act was one 
of heroism. She sealed the note, attached it 
to the neck of the pigeon, and sent the messen- 
ger rejoicing on his journey. Then her feel- 
ings had way, and she wept long and bitterly. 
Then, with a desperate calmness, she reproved 
her own weakness and selfishness, and felt that 
she ought to rejoice in the happiness of her 
friend, and sacrifice her affection, even her life, 
to her. Her heart exculpated Kavanagh from 

A TALE. 155 

all blame. He had not deluded her ; she had 
deluded herself. She alone was in fault ; and 
in deep humiliation, with wounded pride and 
wounded love, and utter self-abasement, she 
bowed her head and prayed for consolation and 

One consolation she already had. The secret 
was her own. She had not revealed it even to 
Cecilia. Kavanagh did not suspect it. Public 
curiosity, public pity, she would not have to 

She was resigned. She made the heroic 
sacrifice of self, leaving her sorrow to the great 
physician, Time, the nurse of care, the healer 
of all smarts, the soother and consoler of all 
sorrows. And, thenceforward, she became unto 
Kavanagh what the moon is to the sun, for ever 
following, for ever separated, for ever sad ! 

As a traveller, about to start upon his journey, 
resolved and yet irresolute, watches the clouds, 
and notes the struggle between the sunshine and 
the showers, and says, " It will be fair ; I will 
go," and again says, u Ah, no, not yet ; the 
rain is not yet over," so at this same hour sat 
Cecilia Vaughan, resolved and yet irresolute, 
longing to depart upon the fair journey before 


her, and yet lingering on the paternal threshold, 
as if she wished both to stay and to go, seeing 
the sky was not without its clouds, nor the road 
without its dangers. 

It was a beautiful picture, as she sat there 
with sweet perplexity in her face, and above it 
an immortal radiance streaming from her brow. 
She was like Guercino's Sibyl, with the scroll 
of fate and the uplifted pen ; and the scroll she 
held contained but three words, three words 
that controlled the destiny of a man, and, by 
their soft impulsion, directed for evermore the 
current of his thoughts. They were, 

" Come to me ! " 

The magic syllables brought Kavanagh to her 
side. The full soul is silent. Only the rising 
and falling tides rush murmuring through their 
channels. So sat the lovers, hand in hand ; but 
for a long time neither spake, neither had need 
of speech ! 

A TALE. 157 


IN the afternoon, Cecilia went to communicate 
the news to Alice with her own lips, thinking it 
too important to be intrusted to the wings of the 
carrier-pigeon. As she entered the door, the 
cheerful doctor was coming out ; but this was no 
unusual apparition, and excited no alarm. Mrs. 
Archer, too, according to custom, was sitting in 
the little parlour with her decrepit old neighbour, 
who seemed almost to have taken up her abode 
under that roof, so many hours of every day did 
she pass there. 

With a light, elastic step, Cecilia bounded up 
to Alice's room. She found her reclining in her 
large chair, flushed and excited. Sitting down 
by her side, and taking both her hands, she said, 
with great emotion in the tones of her voice, 

" Dearest Alice, I have brought you some 


news that I am sure will make you well. For 
my sake, you will be no longer ill when you hear 
it. I am engaged to Mr. Kavanagh ! " 

Alice feigned no surprise at this announcement. 
She returned the warm pressure of Cecilia's 
hand, and, looking affectionately in her face, said 
very calmly, 

" I knew it would be so. I knew that he 
loved you, and that you would love him." 

" How could I help it ? " said Cecilia, her 
eyes beaming with dewy light ; " could any one 
help loving him ? " 

" No," answered Alice, throwing her arms 
around Cecilia's neck, and laying her head upon 
her shoulder ; " at least, no one whom he loved. 
But when did this happen ? Tell me all about 
it, dearest ! " 

Cecilia was surprised, and perhaps a little hurt, 
at the quiet, almost impassive manner in which 
her friend received this great intelligence. She 
had expected exclamations of wonder and delight, 
and such a glow of excitement as that with 
which she was sure she should have hailed the 
announcement of Alice's engagement. But this 
momentary annoyance was soon swept away by 
the tide of her own joyous sensations, as she 

A TALE. 159 

proceeded to recall to the recollection of her 
friend the thousand little circumstances that had 
marked the progress of her love and Kavanagh's ; 
things which she must have noticed, which she 
could not have forgotten ; with questions inter- 
spersed at intervals, such as, " Do you recollect 
when ?" and "I am sure you have not forgot- 
ten, have you ? " and dreamy little pauses of 
silence, and intercalated sighs. She related to 
her, also, the perilous adventure of the carrier- 
pigeon ; how it had been pursued by the cruel 
kingfisher ; how it had taken refuge in Kava- 
nagh's tower, and had been the bearer of his 
letter, as well as her own. When she had 
finished, she felt her bosom wet with the tears 
of Alice, who was suffering martyrdom on that 
soft breast, so full of happiness. Tears of 
bitterness, tears of blood ! And Cecilia, in 
the exultant temper of her soul at the moment, 
thought them tears of joy, and pressed Alice 
closer to her heart, and kissed and caressed her. 

" Ah, how very happy you are, Cecilia ! " 
at length sighed the poor sufferer, in that slightly 
querulous tone, to which Cecilia was not unac- 
customed; " how very happy you are, and how 
very wretched am I ! You have all the joy of 


life, I all its loneliness. How little you will 
think of me now ! How little you will need me ! 
I shall be nothing to you, you will forget me." 

" Never, dearest!" exclaimed Cecilia, with 
much warmth and sincerity. " I shall love you 
only the more. We shall both love you. You 
will now have two friends instead of one." 

" Yes ; but both will not be equal to the one 
I lose. No, Cecilia ; let us not make to our- 
selves any illusions. I do not. You cannot now 
be with me so much and so often as you have 
been. Even if you were, your thoughts would 
be elsewhere. Ah, I have lost my friend, when 
most I needed her ! " 

Cecilia protested ardently and earnestly, and 
dilated with eagerness on her little plan of life, in 
which their romantic friendship was to gain only 
new strength and beauty from the more romantic 
love. She was interrupted by a knock at the 
street door ; on hearing which, she paused a 
moment, and then said, 

" It is Arthur. He was to call for me." 

Ah, what glimpses of home, and fireside, and a 
whole life of happiness for Cecilia, were revealed 
by that one word of love and intimacy, "Ar- 
thur " ! and for Alice, what a sentence of doom ! 

A TALE. 161 

what sorrow without a name ! what an endless 
struggle of love and friendship, of duty and in- 
clination ! A little quiver of the eyelids and the 
hands, a hasty motion to raise her head from 
Cecilia's shoulder, these were the only out- 
ward signs of emotion. But a terrible pang went 
to her heart ; her blood rushed eddying to her 
brain ; and when Cecilia had taken leave of her 
with the triumphant look of love beaming upon her 
brow, and an elevation in her whole attitude and 
bearing, as if borne up by attendant angels, she 
sank back into her chair, exhausted, fainting, 
fearing, longing, hoping to die. 

And below sat the two old women, talking of 
moths, and cheap furniture, and what was the best 
remedy for rheumatism ; and from the door went 
forth two happy hearts, beating side by side with 
the pulse of youth and hope and joy, and within 
them and around them was a new heaven and a 
new earth ! 

Only those who have lived in a small town can 
really know how great an event therein is a new 
engagement. From tongue to tongue passes the 
swift countersign ; from eye to eye flashes the 
illumination of joy, or the bale-fire of alarm ; the 
streets and houses ring with it, as with the pene- 


trating, all-pervading sound of the village bell ; 
the whole community feels a thrill of sympathy, 
and seems to congratulate itself that all the 
great events are by no means confined to the 
great towns. As Cecilia and Kavanagh passed 
arm in arm through the village, many curious eyes 
watched them from the windows, many hearts 
grown cold or careless rekindled their household 
fires of love from the golden altar of God, borne 
through the streets by those pure and holy hands ! 

The intelligence of the engagement, however, 
was received very differently by different persons. 
Mrs. Wilmer dings wondered, for her part, why 
any body wanted to get married at all. The little 
taxidermist said he knew it would be so from the 
very first day they had met at his aviary. Miss 
Hawkins lost suddenly much of her piety and 
all her patience, and laughed rather hysterically. 
Mr. Hawkins said it was impossible, but went 
in secret to consult a friend, an old bachelor, on 
the best remedy for love ; and the old bachelor, 
as one well versed in such affairs, gravely advised 
him to think of the lady as a beautiful statue ! 

Once more the indefatigable school -girl took 
up her pen, and wrote to her foreign correspond- 
ent a letter that might rival the famous epistle of 

A TALE. 163 

Madame de Sevigne to her daughter, announcing 
the engagement of Mademoiselle Montpensier. 
Through the whole of the first page, she told her 
to guess who the lady was ; through the whole of 
the second, who the gentleman was ; the third 
was devoted to what was said about it in the 
village ; and on the fourth there were two post- 
scripts, one at the top and the other at the bot- 
tom, the first stating that they were to be married 
in the Spring, and to go to Italy immediately 
afterwards, and the last, that Alice Archer was 
dangerously ill with a fever. 

As for the Churchills, they could find no words 
powerful enough to express their delight, but 
gave vent to it in a banquet on Thanksgiving- day, 
in which the wife had all the trouble and the 
husband all the pleasure. In order that the 
entertainment might be worthy of the occasion, 
Mr. Churchill wrote to the city for the best 
cookery-book ; and the bookseller, executing the 
order in all its amplitude, sent him the Practical 
Guide to the Culinary Art in all its Branches, by 
Frascatelli, pupil of the celebrated Careme, and 
Chief Cook to Her Majesty the Queen, a 
ponderous volume, illustrated with numerous en- 
gravings, and furnished with bills of fare for every 


month in the year, and any number of persons. 
This great work was duly studied, evening after 
evening ; and Mr. Churchill confessed to his wife, 
that, although at first startled by the size of the 
book, he had really enjoyed it very highly, and 
had been much pleased to be present in imagina- 
tion at so many grand entertainments, and to sit 
opposite the Queen without having to change his 
dress or the general style of his conversation. 

The dinner hour, as well as the dinner itself, 
was duly debated. Mr. Churchill was in favor 
of the usual hour of one ; but his wife thought it 
should be an hour later. Whereupon he re 

" King Henry the Eighth dined at ten o'clock 
and supped at four. His queen's maids of honor 
had a gallon of ale and a chine of beef for their 

To which his wife answered, 

' c I hope we shall have something a little more 
refined than that." 

The day on which the banquet should take 
place was next discussed, and both agreed that 
no day could be so appropriate as Thanksgiving- 
day ; for, as Mrs. Churchill very truly remarked, 
it was really a day of thanksgiving to Kavanagh. 
She then said, 

A TALE. 165 

" How very solemnly he read the Governor's 
Proclamation yesterday ! particularly the words 
' God save the Commonwealth of Massachu- 
setts ! ' And what a Proclamation it was ! 
When he spread it out on the pulpit, it looked 
like a table-cloth ! " 

Mr. Churchill then asked, 

" What day of the week is the first of Decem- 
ber ? Let me see, 

' At Dover dwells George Brown, Esquire, 
Good Christopher Finch and Daniel Friar ! ' 


" I could have told you that," said his wife, 
" by a shorter process than your old rhyme. 
Thanksgiving-day always comes on Thursday." 

These preliminaries being duly settled, the 
dinner was given. 

There being only six guests, and the dinner 
being modelled upon one for twenty-four persons, 
Russian style in November, it was very abundant. 
It began with a Colbert soup, and ended with a 
Nesselrode pudding ; but as no allusion was made 
in the course of the repast to the French names 
of the dishes, and the mutton, and turnips, and 
pancakes were all called by their English patro- 


nymics, the dinner appeared less magnificent in 
reality than in the bill of fare, and the guests did 
not fully appreciate how superb a banquet they 
were enjoying. The hilarity of the occasion 
was not marred by any untoward accident ; 
though once or twice Mr. Churchill was much 
annoyed, and the company much amused, by 
Master Alfred, who was allowed to be present 
at the festivities, and audibly proclaimed what 
was coming, long before it made its appearance. 
When the dinner was over, several of the guests 
remembered brilliant and appropriate things they 
might have said, and wondered they were so 
dull as not to think of them in season ; and when 
they were all gone, Mr. Churchill remarked to his 
wife that he had enjoyed himself very much, and 
that he should like to ask his friends to just such 
a dinner every week ! 

A TALE. 167 


THE first snow came. How beautiful it was, 
falling so silently, all day long, all night long, on 
the mountains, on the meadows, on the roofs of 
the living, on the graves of the dead ! All white 
save the river, that marked its course by a 
winding black line across the landscape ; and 
the leafless trees, that against the leaden sky 
now revealed more fully the wonderful beauty and 
intricacy of their branches ! 

What silence, too, came with the snow, and 
what seclusion ! Every sound was muffled, every 
noise changed to something soft and musical. 
No more trampling hoofs, no more rattling 
wheels ! Only the chiming sleigh-bells, beating 
as swift and merrily as the hearts of children. 

All day long, all night long, the snow fell on 
the village and on the church-yard ; on the happy 


home of Cecilia Vaughan, on the lonely grave 
of Alice Archer ! Yes ; for before the winter 
came she had gone to that land where winter 
never comes. Her long domestic tragedy was 
ended. She was dead ; and with her had died 
her secret sorrow and her secret love. Kava- 
nagh never knew what wealth of affection for him 
faded from the world when she departed ; Cecilia 
never knew what fidelity of friendship, what 
delicate regard, what gentle magnanimity, what 
angelic patience had gone with her into the grave ; 
Mr. Churchill never knew, that, while he was ex- 
ploring the Past for records of obscure and un- 
known martyrs, in his own village, near his own 
door, before his own eyes, one of that silent 
sisterhood had passed away into oblivion, un- 
noticed and unknown. 

How often, ah, how often, between the desire 
of the heart and its fulfilment, lies only the brief- 
est space of time and distance, and yet the desire 
remains forever unfulfilled ! It is so near that we 
can touch it with the hand, and yet so far away 
that the eye cannot perceive it. What Mr. 
Churchill most desired was before him. The 
Romance he was longing to find and record had 
really occurred in his neighbourhood, among his 

A TALE. 169 

own friends. It had been set like a picture 
into the frame-work of his life, inclosed within 
his own experience. But he could not see it 
as an object apart from himself; and as he was 
gazing at what was remote and strange and in- 
distinct, the nearer incidents of aspiration, love, 
and death, escaped him. They were too near to 
be clothed by the imagination with the golden 
vapors of romance ; for the familiar seems trivial, 
and only the distant and unknown completely fill 
and satisfy the mind. 

The winter did not pass without its peculiar 
delights and recreations. The singing of the 
great wood fires ; the blowing of the wind over 
the chimney-tops, as if they w r ere organ pipes ; 
the splendor of the spotless snow ; the purple 
wall built round the horizon at sunset ; the sea- 
suggesting pines, with the moan of the billows in 
their branches, on which the snows were furled 
like sails ; the northern lights ; the stars of steel ; 
the transcendent moonlight, and the lovely shad- 
ows of the leafless trees upon the snow ; these 
things did not pass unnoticed nor unremembered. 
Every one of them made its record upon the 
heart of Mr. Churchill. 

His twilight walks, his long Saturday afternoon 


rambles, had again become solitary ; for Kavanagh 
was lost to him for such purposes, and his wife" 
was one of those women who never walk. 
Sometimes he went down to the banks of the 
frozen river, and saw the farmers crossing it 
with their heavy-laden sleds, and the Fairmeadow 
schooner imbedded in the ice ; and thought of 
Lapland sledges, and the song of Kulnasatz, and 
the dismantled, ice-locked vessels of the explorers 
in the Arctic Ocean. Sometimes he went to the 
neighbouring lake, and saw the skaters wheeling 
round their fire, and speeding away before the 
wind ; and in his imagination arose images of the 
Norwegian Skate-Runners, bearing the tidings of 
King Charles's death from Frederickshall to 
Drontheim, and of the retreating Swedish army, 
frozen to death in its fireless tents among the 
mountains. And then he would watch the cut- 
ting of the ice with ploughs, and the horses drag- 
ging the huge blocks to the store-houses, and 
contrast them with the Grecian mules, bearing the 
snows of Mount Parnassus to the markets of 
Athens, in panniers protected from the sun by 
boughs of oleander and rhododendron. 

The rest of his leisure hours were employed in 
any thing and every thing save in writing his 

A TALE. 171 

Romance. A great deal of time was daily 
consumed in reading the newspapers, because it 
was necessary, he said, to keep up with the 
times ; and a great deal more in writing a 
Lyceum Lecture, on u What Lady Macbeth 
might have been, had her energies been properly 
directed." He also made some little progress in 
a poetical arithmetic, founded on Bhascara's, but 
relinquished it, because the school committee 
thought it was not practical enough, and more 
than hinted that he had better adhere to the old 
system. And still the vision of the great 
Romance moved before his mind, august and 
glorious, a beautiful mirage of the desert. 



THE wedding did not take place till Spring. 
And then Kavanagh and his Cecilia departed on 
their journey to Italy and the East, a sacred 
mission, a visit like the Apostle's to the Seven 
Churches, nay, to all the Churches of Christen- 
dom ; hoping by some means to sow in many 
devout hearts the desire and prophecy that 'filled 
his own, the union of all sects into one univers- 
al Church of Christ. They intended to be absent 
one year only ; they were gone three. It seemed 
to their friends that they never wonld return. 
But at length they came, the long absent, the 
long looked for, the long desired, bearing with 
them that delicious perfume of travel, that genial, 
sunny atmosphere, and soft, Ausonian air, which 
returning travellers always bring about them. 

A TALE. 173 

It was night when they reached the village, 
and they could not see what changes had taken 
place in it during their absence. How it had 
dilated and magnified itself, how it had puffed 
itself up, and bedizened itself with flaunting, 
ostentatious signs, how it stood, rotund and 
rubicund with brick, like a portly man, with his 
back to the fire and both hands in his pockets, 
warm, expansive, apoplectic, and entertaining a 
very favorable opinion of himself, all this they 
did not see, for the darkness ; but Kavanagh 
beheld it all, and more, when he went forth on 
the following morning. 

How Cecilia's heart beat as they drove up the 
avenue to the old house ! The piny odors in the 
night air, the solitary light at her father's window, 
the familiar bark of the dog Major at the sound of 
the wheels, awakened feelings at once new and 
old. A sweet perplexity of thought, a strange 
familiarity, a no less pleasing strangeness ! The 
lifting of the heavy brass latch, and the jarring of 
the heavy brass knocker as the door closed, were 
echoes from her childhood. Mr. Vaughan they 
found, as usual, among his papers in the study ; 
the same bland, white-haired man, hardly a day 
older than when they left. At the sight of him, 


the whole long absence in Italy became a dream, 
and vanished away. Even Kavanagh was for the 
moment forgotten. She was a daughter, not a 
wife ; she had not been married, she had not 
been in Italy ! 

In the morning, Kavanagh sallied forth to find 
the Fairmeadow of his memory, but found it not. 
The railroad had completely transformed it. The 
simple village had become a very precocious 
town. New shops, with new names over the 
doors ; new streets, with new forms and faces in 
them ; the whole town seemed to have been taken 
and occupied by a besieging army of strangers. 
Nothing was permanent but the work-house, 
standing alone in the pasture by the river ; and, 
at the end of the street, the school-house, that 
other work-house, where in childhood we pick 
and untwist the cordage of the brain, that, later in 
life, we may not be obliged to pull to pieces the 
more material cordage of old ships. 

Kavanagh soon turned in despair from the main 
street into a little green lane, where there were 
few houses, and where the barberry still nodded 
over the old stone wall ; a place he had much 
loved in the olden time for its silence and seclu- 
sion. He seemed to have entered his ancient 

A TALE. 175 

realm of dreams again, and was walking with his 
hat drawn a little over his eyes. He had not 
proceeded far, when he was startled by a woman's 
voice, quite sharp and loud, crying from the op- 
posite side of the lane. Looking up, he beheld a 
small cottage, against the wall of which rested a 
ladder, and on this ladder stood the wornan from 
whom the voice came. Her face was nearly 
concealed by a spacious gingham sun-bonnet, and 
in her right hand she held extended a large brush, 
with which she was painting the front of her 
cottage, when interrupted by the approach of 
Kavanagh, who, thinking she was calling to him, 
but not understanding what she said, made haste 
to cross over to her assistance. At this move- 
ment her tone became louder and more peremp- 
tory ; and he could now understand that her cry 
was rather ,a warning than an invitation. 

" Go away ! " she said, flourishing her brush. 
" Go away ' What are you coming down here 
for, when I am on the ladder, painting my house ? 
If you don't go right about your business, I will 
come down and " 

"Why, Miss Manchester !" exclaimed Kava- 
nagh ; " how could I know that you would be 
going up the ladder just as I came down the 
lane ? " 


" Well, I declare ! if it is not Mr. Kava- 
nagh ! 

And she scrambled down the ladder backwards 
with as much grace as the circumstances permit- 
ted. She, too, like the rest of his friends in the 
village, showed symptoms of growing older. The 
passing years had drunk a portion of the light 
from her eyes, and left their traces on her cheeks, 
as birds that drink at lakes leave their foot-prints 
on the margin. But the pleasant smile remained, 
and reminded him of the by-gone days, when she 
used to open for him the door of the gloomy 
house under the poplars. 

Many things had she to ask, and many to tell ; 
and for full half an hour Kavanagh stood leaning 
over the paling, while she remained among the 
hollyhocks, as stately and red as the plants them- 
selves. At parting, she gave him one of the 
flowers for his wife ; and, when he was fairly out 
of sight, again climbed the perilous ladder, and 
resumed her fresco painting. 

Through all the vicissitudes of these later years, 
Sally had remained true to her principles and 
resolution. At Mrs. Archer's death, which oc- 
cured soon after Kavanagh's wedding, she had 
retired to this little cottage, bought and paid for 

A TALE. 177 

by her own savings. Though often urged by 
Mr. Vaughan's man, Silas, who breathed his 
soul out upon the air of Summer evenings 
through a keyed bugle, she resolutely refused to 
marry. In vain did he send her letters written 
with his own blood, going barefooted into the 
brook to be bitten by leeches, and then using 
his feet as inkstands : she refused again and 
again. Was it that in some blue chamber, 
or some little warm back parlour, of her heart, 
the portrait of the inconstant dentist was still 
hanging ? Alas, no ! But as to some hearts it 
is given in youth to blossom with the fragrant 
blooms of young desire, so others are doomed 
by a mysterious destiny to be checked in Spring 
by chill winds, blowing over the bleak common 
of the world. So had it been with her desires 
and thoughts of love. Fear now predominated 
over hope ; and to die unmarried had become 
to her a fatality which she dared not resist. 

In the course of his long conversation with Miss 
Manchester, Kavanagh learned many things about 
the inhabitants of the town. Mrs. Wilmer dings 
was still carrying on her labors in the u Dun- 
stable and eleven-braid, open-work and colored 
straws." Her husband had taken to the tavern, 


and often came home very late, " with a brick 
in his hat," as Sally expressed it. Their son 
and heir was far away in the Pacific, on board 
a whale-ship. Miss Amelia Hawkins remained 
unmarried, though possessing a talent for matri- 
mony which amounted almost to genius. Her 
brother, the poet, was no more. Finding it im- 
possible to follow the old bachelor's advice, and 
look upon Miss Vaughan as a beautiful statue, 
he made one or two attempts, but in vain, to 
throw himself away on unworthy objects, and 
then died. At this event, two elderly maidens 
went into mourning simultaneously, each thinking 
herself engaged to him ; and suddenly went out 
of it again, mutually indignant with each other, 
and mortified with themselves. The little taxi- 
dermist was still hopping about in his aviary, 
looking more than ever like his gray African 
parrot. Mrs. Archer's house was uninhabited. 

A TALE. 179 


KAVANAGH continued his walk in the direction 
of Mr. Churchill's residence. This, at least, 
was unchanged, quite unchanged. The same 
white front ; the same brass knocker ; the same 
old wooden gate, with its chain and ball ; the same 
damask roses under the windows ; the same sun- 
shine without and within. The outer door and 
study door were both open, as usual in the warm 
weather ; and at the table sat Mr. Churchill, 
writing. Over each ear was a black and inky 
stump of a pen, which, like the two ravens 
perched on Odin's shoulders, seemed to whisper 
to him all that passed in heaven and on earth. 
On this occasion, their revelations were of the 
earth. He was correcting school exercises. 

The joyful welcome of Mr. Churchill, as 
Kavanagh entered, and the cheerful sound of 


their voices, soon brought Mrs. Churchill to the 
study, her eyes bluer than ever, her cheeks 
fairer, her form more round and full. The 
children came in also, Alfred grown to boy's 
estate and exalted into a jacket ; and the baby 
-that was, less than two years behind him, and 
catching all his falling mantles, and all his tricks 
and maladies. 

Kavanagh found Mr. Churchill precisely where 
he left him. He had not advanced one step, 
not one. The same dreams, the same longings, 
the same aspirations, the same indecision. A 
thousand things had been planned, and none com- 
pleted. His imagination seemed still to exhaust 
itself in running, before it tried to leap the ditch. 
While he mused, the fire burned in other brains. 
Other hands wrote the books he dreamed about. 
He freely used his good ideas in conversation, 
and in letters ; and they were straightway wrought 
into the texture of other men's books, and so 
lost to him for ever. His work on Obscure 
Martyrs was anticipated by Mr. Hathaway, who, 
catching the idea from him, wrote and published 
a series of papers on Unknown Saints, before 
Mr. Churchill had fairly arranged his materials. 
Before he had written a chapter of his great Ro- 

A TALE. 181 

mance, another friend and novelist had published 
one on the same subject. 

Poor Mr. Churchill ! So far as fame and ex- 
ternal success were concerned, his life certainly 
was a failure. He was, perhaps, too deeply 
freighted, too much laden by the head, to ride 
the waves gracefully. Every sea broke over 
him, he was half the time under water ! 

All his defects and mortifications he attributed 
to the outward circumstances of his life, the exi- 
gencies of his profession, the accidents of chance. 
But, in reality, they lay much deeper than this. 
They were within himself. He wanted the all- 
controlling, all-subduing will. He wanted the 
fixed purpose that sways and bends all circum- 
stances to its uses, as the wind bends the reeds 
and rushes beneath it. 

In a few minutes, and in that broad style of 
handling, in which nothing is distinctly defined, but 
every thing clearly suggested, Kavanagh sketched 
to his friends his three years' life in Italy and the 
East. And then, turning to Mr. Churchill, he 

" And you, my friend, what have you been 
doing all this while ? You have written to me 
so rarely that I have hardly kept pace with you. 


But I have thought of you constantly. In all the 
old cathedrals ; in all the lovely landscapes ; 
among the Alps and Apennines ; in looking down 
on Duomo d'Ossola ; at the Inn of Baveno ; at 
Gaeta ; at Naples ; in old and mouldy Rome ; 
in older Egypt ; in the Holy Land ; in all galle- 
ries and churches and ruins ; in our rural retire- 
ment at Fiesoli ; whenever I have seen any 
thing beautiful, I have thought of you, and of 
how much you would have enjoyed it ! " 

Mr. Churchill sighed ; and then, as if, with a 
touch as masterly, he would draw a picture that 
should define nothing, but suggest every thing, 
he said, 

" You have no children, Kavanagh ; we have 

" Ah, so many already ! " exclaimed Kava- 
nagh. " A living Pentateuch ! A beautiful Pen- 
tapylon, or five -gated temple of Life ! A charm- 
ing number ! " 

" Yes," answered Mr. Churchill ; " a beautiful 
number ; Juno's own ; the wedding of the first 
even and first uneven numbers ; the number 
sacred to marriage, but having no reference, 
direct or indirect, to the Pythagorean novitiate 
of five years of silence." 

A TALE. 183 

cc No ; it certainly is not the vocation of chil- 
dren to be silent," said Kavanagh, laughing. 
" That would be out of nature ; saving always 
the children of the brain, which do not often make 
so much noise in the world as we desire. I hope 
a still larger family of these has grown up around 
you during my absence." 

" Quite otherwise," answered the school- 
master, sadly. " My brain has been almost bar- 
ren of songs. I have only been trifling ; and I am 
afraid, that, if I play any longer with Apollo, the 
untoward winds will blow the discus of the god 
against my forehead, and strike me dead with it, 
as they did Hyacinth of old." 

" And your Romance, have you been more 
successful with that ? I hope it is finished, or 
nearly finished ? " 

" Not yet begun," said Mr. Churchill. " The 
plan and characters still remain vague and indefi- 
nite in my mind. I have not even found a name 
for it." 

" That you can determine after the book is 
written," suggested Kavanagh. " You can name 
it, for instance, as the old Heimskringla was 
named, from the initial word of the first chapter." 

" Ah ! that was very well in the olden time, 


and in Iceland, when there were no quarterly 
reviews. It would be called affectation now." 

" I see you still stand a little in awe of opinion. 
Never fear that. The strength of criticism lies 
only in the weakness of the thing criticized." 

" That is the truth, Kavanagh ; and I am 
more afraid of deserving criticism than of receiv- 
ing it. I stand in awe of my own opinion. The 
secret demerits of which we alone, perhaps, are 
conscious, are often more difficult to bear than 
those which have been publicly censured in us, 
and thus in some degree atoned for." 

" I will not say," replied Kavanagh, " that 
humility is the only road to excellence, but I am 
sure that it is one -road." 

" Yes, humility ; but not humiliation," sighed 
Mr. Churchill, despondingly. u As for excel- 
lence, I can only desire it, and dream of it ; I 
cannot attain to it ; it lies too far from me ; I 
cannot reach it. These very books about me 
here, that once stimulated me to action, have 
now become my accusers. They are my Eu- 
menides, and drive me to despair." 

" My friend," said Kavanagh, after a short 
pause, during which he had taken note of Mr. 
Churchill's sadness, " that is not always excel- 

A TALE. 185 

lent which lies far away from us. What is re- 
mote and difficult of access we are apt to over- 
rate ; what is really best for us lies always within 
our reach, though often overlooked. To speak 
frankly, I am afraid this is the case with your 
Romance. You are evidently grasping at some- 
thing which lies beyond the confines of your own 
experience, and which, consequently, is only a 
play of shadows in the realm of fancy. The 
figures have no vitality ; they are only outward 
sh^ws, wanting inward life. We can give to 
others only what we have." 

" And if we have nothing worth giving ? " in- 
terrupted Mr. Churchill. 

"No man is so poor as that. As well might 
the mountain streamlets say they have nothing 
worth giving to the sea, because they are not 
rivers. Give what you have. To some one, it 
may be better than you dare to think. If you 
had looked nearer for the materials of your 
Romance, and had set about it in earnest, it 
would now have been finished." 

" And burned, perhaps," interposed Mr. 
Churchill; " or sunk with the books of Simon 
Magus to the bottom of the Dead Sea." 

" At all events, you would have had the pleas- 


ure of writing it. I remember one of the old 
traditions of Art, from which you may perhaps 
draw a moral. When Raphael desired to paint 
his Holy Family, for a long time he strove in 
vain to express the idea that filled and possessed 
his soul. One morning, as he walked beyond the 
city gates, meditating the sacred theme, he be- 
held, sitting beneath a vine at her cottage door, a 
peasant woman, holding a boy in her arms, while 
another leaned upon her knee, and gazed at the 
approaching stranger. The painter found here, in 
real life, what he had so long sought for in vain in 
the realms of his imagination ; and quickly, with 
his chalk pencil, he sketched, upon the head of a 
wine-cask that stood near them, the lovely group, 
which afterwards, when brought into full perfec- 
tion, became the transcendent Madonna della 

"All this is true," replied Mr. Churchill, 
u but it gives me no consolation. I now despair 
of writing any thing excellent. I have no time to 
devote to meditation and study. My life is given 
to others, and to this destiny I submit without a 
murmur ; for I have the satisfaction of having 
labored faithfully in my calling, and of having 
perhaps trained and incited others to do what I 

A TALE. 187 

shall never do. Life is still precious to me for 
its many uses, of which the writing of books is 
but one. I do not complain, but accept this 
destiny, and say, with that pleasant author, 
Marcus Antoninus, c Whatever is agreeable to 
thee shall be agreeable to me, O graceful Uni- 
verse ! nothing shall be to me too early or too 
late, which is seasonable to thee ! Whatever thy 
seasons bear shall be joyful fruit to me, O 
Nature ! from thee are all things ; in thee they 
subsist ; to thee they return. Could one say, 
Thou dearly beloved city of Cecrops ? and wilt 
thou not say, Thou dearly beloved city of 
God ? ' " 

" Amen ! " said Kavanagh. " And, to follow 
your quotation with another, c The gale that 
blows from God we must endure, toiling but not 
repining.' " 

Here Mrs. Churchill, who had something of 
Martha in her, as well as of Mary, and had left 
the room when the conversation took a literary 
turn, came back to announce that dinner was 
ready, and Kavanagh, though warmly urged to 
stay, took his leave, having first obtained from the 
Churchills the promise of a visit to Cecilia during 
the evening. 



" Nothing done ! nothing done ! " exclaimed 
he, as he wended his way homeward, musing and 
meditating. cc And shall all these lofty aspira- 
tions end in nothing ? Shall the arms be thus 
stretched forth to encircle the universe, and come 
back empty against a bleeding, aching breast ? " 

And the words of the poet came into his 
mind, and he thought them worthy to be written 
in letters of gold, and placed above every door in 
every house, as a warning, a suggestion, an in- 
citement : 

" Stay, stay the present instant ! 
Imprint the marks of wisdom on its wings ! 
0, let it not elude thy grasp, but like 
The good old patriarch upon record, 
Hold the fleet angel fast until he bless thee ! " 


Return to desk from which borrowed. 
This book is DUE on the last date stamped below. 

< J a